Exhibit A in the case of Why The Padres Are In First Place: Mat Latos.
Tuesday night, Latos once again showed his uncanny ability to pitch his best when he gets the least help from his offense, throwing seven shutout innings in a 2-1 win over the Rays.
It was the fourth time Latos has pitched in a game the Padres won by one run, including a pair of 1-0 victories (including one in which he came within an infield single of a perfect game). Latos (8-4) also has won a pair of two-run games.
Tuesday, the San Diego offense managed just four hits, but Latos made sure it was enough. It was the sixth consecutive start in which the 22-year-old right-hander has allowed four or fewer hits.
"I thought he threw the ball extremely well," San Diego manager Bud Black said after the game. "As the game goes on and the outs for the opposition wind down, I think he senses that. I think he senses the importance of each pitch as the game enters the later stages and that's a great quality to understand that."
Latos had one bad outing, giving up seven runs and lasting just 2 2/3 innings against the Marlins on April 26. Outside that game, he's never allowed more than four runs and has a 2.27 ERA.
-- David Andriesen
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