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Notes: Meredith sees ERA drop

Notes: Meredith sees ERA drop

SAN DIEGO -- Cla Meredith allowed two runs and took the loss in Wednesday's 3-0 setback to the Rockies, although that only took a little shine off the strong month the right-handed reliever is having.

The two runs Meredith gave up were the first runs he has yielded this month. It comes on the heels of a blissful July that saw Meredith post a nifty 1.46 ERA.

And on top of that, a scoring change from a game on July 21 against the Phillies in which Meredith allowed five earned runs was changed this week to reflect no earned runs after Marcus Giles was assessed an error on what originally was an Aaron Rowand infield hit.

That scoring change lowered Meredith's ERA from 3.97 to 3.18. Even after Wednesday's game, his ERA is at 3.43, which is a far cry from where it was earlier this season.

After not allowing a run in 14 innings in April, the sidearm pitcher with a nasty sinking fastball was tagged for 10 runs in 12 innings in May and eight more runs in June over 13 innings as his ERA climbed to 4.45 after a blown save June 12 against Tampa Bay.

"A lot of things have finally come together for me," Meredith said. "You can't dwell on ERA; it is what it is. Those things are going to happen. The unfortunate thing about what happened there [on July 21] is I had been pitching really well, then that night happened. I didn't throw a single bad pitch that whole inning. That threw me in a whole rut."

Because Meredith is a short-inning specialist -- he has only worked more than two innings four times this season in 58 games -- one bad outing can send an ERA spiraling in the wrong direction very easily.

"That can ruin your year," he said. "It's the difference between a 3-something [ERA] or a 4-something."

Meredith tried to rectify his problems earlier in the season by actually dropping lower in his delivery. But that only made his ball flatten out more as it passed through the strike zone. Now he's found a better release point and has been able to repeat it successfully.

"This year has been a good year for me because I've learned a lot," Meredith said. "I've learned how to survive. This year I've had to work for everything."

Still no Milton: Outfielder Milton Bradley tested his strained right hamstring on Thursday in the outfield during batting practice, going through a series of agility drills in his first heavy action on his right leg since suffering a setback on Saturday in Cincinnati.

Bradley, who has had one at-bat since Aug. 3, worked out Thursday under the watchful eye of manager Bud Black, who still is not certain when Bradley will return to the field.

"I think hamstrings are sort of difficult to read. If you've ever had one, you sort of always feel them," Black said. "It's an indication for Milton that when he initially did it ... it was probably a little more strained than we initially thought."

Bradley suffered the injury on Aug. 2 against the Giants. Then he played on it the next day, though he was removed from that game early. Bradley pinch-hit in St. Louis on Aug. 8, but he hasn't seen the field since.

"I think that Friday [Aug. 3] when he played, he played in a lot of pain," Black said. "Out of his own competitiveness, he didn't want to succumb and go on the disabled list. He kept getting closer and closer and had a minor setback in Cincinnati."

Bradley is hitting .360 in his first 22 games for the Padres with five home runs and 15 RBIs. The Padres, who have been shut out five times since the All-Star break, certainly could use his bat in the middle of their lineup.

But Black indicated that Bradley and the team are being cautious. Bradley has said on several occasions that he won't play until his hamstring is healthy.

"It's coming along. I'm getting good treatment and working hard," Bradley said. "But it's got to be to the point where I can do everything on the field. I just don't want to risk getting hurt again."

Added Black: "Hopefully he can get this thing behind him."

It's nearly Fall [League]: The Padres certainly will be well represented during the upcoming Arizona Fall League season, which begins on Oct. 9.

The Arizona Fall League, now in its 16th season, usually has some of the top prospects in the game.

The Padres will send outfielder Will Venable, catcher Nick Hundley, second baseman Matt Antonelli and pitchers Will Startup, Neil Jamison and Jonathan Ellis to play for the Peoria Saguaros in the six-team league.

Pitcher Steve Garrison, one of three pitchers obtained from Milwaukee in the July deal for Scott Linebrink, currently is holding a spot, although that doesn't mean he will pitch in Arizona.

If Garrison opts not to pitch in Arizona, the Padres could substitute another pitcher.

Friar notes: On Thursday the Padres signed outfielder Brady Clark to a Minor League contract. Clark, 34, is expected to report to Triple-A Portland on Friday. Oddly enough, Clark makes his offseason home in Portland. Clark hit .224 in 47 games for the Dodgers before being designated for assignment earlier in the season. He most recently was with Boston's Triple-A team in Pawtucket. Clark is a career .277 hitter in the Major Leagues. ... As expected, the Padres recalled right-handed pitcher Clay Hensley to make the start Thursday against the Rockies. The corresponding roster move had left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher optioned to Triple-A Portland, where he likely will get a lot more work. Thatcher had not allowed a run in five innings, including two innings on Tuesday against the Rockies.

On deck: The Padres open a three-game series at 7:05 p.m. PT on Friday against the Astros. Jake Peavy (13-5, 2.23 ERA) will get the start for San Diego. Houston will counter with former Padre Woody Williams (6-12, 5.09 ERA).

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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