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Stauffer solid in return, but Friars fall

Stauffer solid in return, but Friars fall

SAN FRANCISCO -- Three weeks ago, Tim Stauffer was getting sporadic work out of the bullpen with Double-A San Antonio, just happy to be back throwing again after the labrum surgery he had last May cost him the entire 2008 season.

From an organizational standpoint, Stauffer, a first-round Draft pick in 2003, had fallen about as far off the radar as a pitcher can, especially after the impression he left after two bad spot starts with the Padres two seasons ago.

To this, Stauffer had no qualms about.

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"Having surgery, you definitely fall off the radar. But you have to put yourself back out there," Stauffer said. "Understandably, they are not going to throw you back out there."

That's essentially what the Padres did Saturday as Stauffer made the best of a start for recently deposed Walter Silva, allowing two runs in seven innings as the Padres fell to the Giants, 2-1, at AT&T Park.

The story line for the Padres (35-52) wasn't so much about how they recovered from the no-hitter San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez threw on Friday -- for the record, the Padres got a single from Tony Gwynn in the first inning to end any such drama.

Nor was it about their inability to mount much in the way of offense, even after Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain, a 10-game winner, left the game after 1 2/3 innings when he suffered a right elbow contusion when, Stauffer of all people, lined a ball up the middle.

Really, the story was about Stauffer, who, according to one front-office employee, threw the best that he's seen him throw. San Diego manager Bud Black, who doesn't have the history many others in the organization do, said pitching coach Darren Balsley said the very same thing.

"I can say in the games I've seen him, that's the best I've seen him throw," Black said, remembering two outings in 2007 when Stauffer was recalled for starts that would see him allow 18 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings.

"I saw four solid pitches ... a fastball right at 90 [mph] and I saw a curve that had some downward action to it and a functional changeup. I saw him attack the strike zone with a good ball-to-strike ratio."

Stauffer didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning when Randy Winn sent a soft liner into short left field. Left-handed-hitting Pablo Sandoval then jumped on a fastball that was out and over the plate, driving it over the wall in left field.

"We got beat by a bloop and a bomb," Black said.

The Padres ended their scoreless streak in this series at 18 innings by scoring a run in the eighth inning, as rookie Everth Cabrera doubled to right-center field, stole third base and kept right on running when Giants catcher Eli Whiteside threw the ball into left field.

That was the only run the Padres could muster against the Giants (49-38), even after they managed to chase Cain from the game after getting four of their seven hits off him in the first two innings.

Maybe getting Cain out of the game wasn't the best thing for the Padres, Edgar Gonzalez said after the game.

"We hit Cain pretty good at the start, but when he left, it became a little tougher because our game plan was for Cain, and he throws a lot of fastballs," Gonzalez said. "They brought in the other guy [Justin Miller] and he was throwing a lot of off-speed pitches.

"I don't think that we made good adjustments. We need to start taking better at-bats."

Stauffer (0-1) loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning but got Travis Ishikawa on a short fly ball to center field and then got Edgar Renteria on a short fly ball to right field to escape trouble.

Stauffer tied his career-high with seven strikeouts and walked one batter, and it was intentionally.

"He was good tonight. His velocity has picked up since I've seen him, and he used all his pitches," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "He pitched well. We had a tough time trying to figure him out. We created a great opportunity there [in the sixth], and he pitched out of it."

Stauffer, who was officially added to the roster Saturday to take the spot in the rotation of Silva, who was designated for assignment earlier this week, figures to get another chance to start after the All-Star break.

Like a lot of players on the 25-man roster who are short on Major League service time, he'll get a chance to show what he can do.

"A lot of players in the organization are going to be getting opportunities," Black said. "This is another one of those."

Stauffer, who turned 27 last month, wouldn't mind sticking here and being able to start every fifth day. He hopes Saturday was a start after being brought along slowly with San Antonio and then pitching well in Triple-A Portland.

"I really appreciate the opportunity being here. It's been nice having them support me. I can't say enough about the organization," Stauffer said. "Obviously, it's nice to be back. The last 3-4 weeks is the best I've felt in five years. The more I'm out there, the more comfortable I am."

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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