Stults' career comes full circle with start vs. old team

Stults' career comes full circle with start vs. old team

LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't lost on Padres pitcher Eric Stults that the start he made Tuesday against the Dodgers was one day shy of the sixth anniversary of his Major League debut with Los Angeles.

And while six years have passed since that day in Milwaukee, there were still a lot of familiar faces in the home dugout at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

Stults was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 15th round in 2002.

"It was great, I'm still close with a lot of guys over there, I came up with a lot of them," Stults said on Wednesday. "I'm still close with A.J. Ellis, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp. It was nice to a see a lot of familiar faces."

Good chance the Dodgers didn't recognize the pitcher that Stults has become, one who is now using a big, looping curveball as a weapon to go with a sneaky fastball.

He allowed one run on seven hits in six innings in his first start against his former team on Tuesday, taking a no-decision in the Padres' 6-3 win in 11 innings.

"They have a background on me over there, but I'm throwing a lot of curveballs now and I had not in the past," Stults said. "I used to throw it harder, but I found that if I throw it slower, I have better control of it. It's slow enough that they really need to stay back on it."

It's slow enough that it's helped Stults, a left-hander, turn into one of the best pitchers on the staff in recent weeks. He has allowed one earned run over his last three starts and a total of seven earned runs in his last six starts since coming off the disabled list in July.