Garcia delivers best audition yet for job with Padres

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Freddy Garcia turned in his finest performance of Cactus League play on Tuesday night, as he struck out five of the first six batters he faced against the Giants.

Garcia, who entered the game with a 13.50 ERA in three games, allowed one run over four innings in a game played at Scottsdale Stadium.

In competition for a spot in the starting rotation, Garcia allowed one run on three hits in four innings. He finished with six strikeouts and walked one batter. He didn't allow a hit until the third inning when pinch-hitter Johnny Monell hit a solo home run.

"We've seen the success of the secondary pitches down below the strike zone with a lot of action," Padres manager Bud Black said of Garcia. "It's a deceptive arm speed that can create a lack of timing for the hitters.

"[Tonight] he got ahead and put them away."

Entering Tuesday's game against the Giants, Garcia had allowed 10 earned runs on 12 hits in his first 6 2/3 innings of the spring.

Black said earlier Tuesday that the team was looking at the possibility that Garcia could make the team in long relief.

Garcia is in camp on a Minor League contract that would pay him $1.3 million if he makes the team. He could earn an additional $1.1 million based on the number of starts he makes.

The top four spots in the Padres' starting rotation are essentially spoken for -- Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Jason Marquis and Eric Stults. The race for the No. 5 spot is realistically down to Garcia, Tyson Ross, Tim Stauffer and Anthony Bass.

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