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.
Outfielder Denorfia signs two-year deal with Padres
LOS ANGELES -- The Padres gave reserve outfielder Chris Denorfia a two-year contract extension on Wednesday that will keep him in San Diego though the 2014 season.
Denorfia, 32, will make $2 million in 2013 and $2.25 million in 2014. Going into Wednesday's game at Dodger Stadium, he was hitting .290 with six home runs and 30 RBIs in 314 plate appearances. He's been a terror on left-handed pitching, producing a .333/.387/.490 slash line.
"'Deno' is a guy who comes to play every day, is a great team player, a productive and winning player," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He's got a great perspective on this game and is very comfortable with who he is."
Denorfia needs only three more hits to tie his career high from last season (85). Denorfia has mostly been utilized in a right-field platoon with Will Venable, though he's seen time -- and will continue to so -- in left field, spelling Carlos Quentin.
"I'm really excited, I feel like I've found a home here," Denorfia said. "This organization is first class all the way. I'm happy to call San Diego home for two more years."
And he's happy to remain in the role Black has used him in -- whether that be a platoon situation, a spot start in left field or a pinch-hitting appearance.
"It's not an extra-man role but not a starter ... it's somewhere in the middle," Denorfia said. "It's a nice niche that I've found."
Denorfia came to the Padres in December 2009 when he signed a Minor League deal. He made the team the following spring and has been here ever since.
Since March, general manager Josh Byrnes has given contract extensions to outfielder Cameron Maybin, pitcher Cory Luebke, catcher Nick Hundley, Quentin, closer Huston Street, outfielder Mark Kotsay and now Denorfia.
Volquez pushed back because of blister on thumb
LOS ANGELES -- Padres pitcher Edinson Volquez will have his scheduled start on Saturday pushed back until Tuesday due to a troublesome blister on his right thumb.
San Diego manager Bud Black said before Wednesday's game that rookies Casey Kelly and Andrew Werner will pitch Saturday and Sunday, respectively, against the D-backs at Petco Park.
Volquez, who has had issues recently with the blister, will have his start pushed back three days when the Padres play host to the Cardinals.
"It's been troubling him over his last few starts, so we felt it was time to let it heal," Black said.
The Padres are off on Thursday, the first of four off-days this month. The team is using a six-man rotation with Andrew Cashner -- who gets the start Friday -- joining Clayton Richard, Volquez, Werner, Kelly and Eric Stults.
Black said the blister has kept Volquez from using his breaking ball in recent weeks, a pitch that Black said might actually be better than his changeup, which is considered a plus-pitch.