Germano, promoted from Triple-A Portland on May 8 to replace injured Clay Hensley (strained groin), held Seattle to an unearned run and six hits in six innings and the Padres beat the Mariners 2-1 on Sunday. Germano (2-0) has allowed one run and 12 hits in 19 innings for a 0.47 earned run average.
"I've said over the past couple weeks that Germano is pitching in the big leagues where he left off in Triple-A," Padres manager Bud Black said. Germano was 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five starts for Portland.
"He has the ability to throw strikes," Black added. "He's locating. He's changing speeds to affect the hitters' timing. Then you add the movement on his fastball and that equates to success."
Hensley, placed on the DL on May 4, also started Sunday in his first rehab assignment for Portland. He went six innings, allowing six hits and two runs against Las Vegas. He may have one more minor-league start before returning.
"Justin has had three quality starts. He has worked his way into this rotation," said closer Trevor Hoffman, who earned his 11th save despite a shaky ninth. "I know they're going to have some difficult decisions to make. Clay did a nice job prior to his injury. It's a good problem to have."
Germano outpitched Mariners ace Felix Hernandez (2-2), who was making his second start after spending nearly a month on the disabled list with a strained right elbow. Hernandez worked five innings, allowing eight hits and two runs. He walked three and struck out nine.
"The first inning he was fine, after that he struggled with his command and got some balls up," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "He pitched out of some jams, gave up a couple two-out RBI base hits. He didn't pitch as well as he can but he pitched well enough to win."
Hargrove said that he was impressed with the way Germano "threw his soft stuff over for strikes no matter what the count, whether he was behind or ahead. He threw a lot of curveballs, changeups and a lot of two-seamers for strikes and stayed away from the middle of the plate. He was good today."
Germano was traded away by the Padres in 2005 and traded again in 2006. He was released Philadelphia during spring training. The Padres picked him up on March 19.
Germano said he's a much more mature pitcher than the one that came through the Padres' system.
"I'm more experienced in getting in and out of those tough situations," he said. "My emotions kind of took over before. That's what I've learned the past couple years, to slow the game down a little bit, take control."
Adrian Gonzalez gave the Padres a 2-1 lead in the third with an RBI single to center, scoring Marcus Giles, who led off with a double. Hernandez, on a pitch count in the 95-pitch range, threw 30 pitches in the inning. He yielded two more singles, threw a wild pitch and walked a batter before getting out of the inning by inducing a groundball by Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Gonzalez opened the second inning with a ground-rule double to left-center. Josh Bard drove him home with another ground-rule double with one out.
"When no one is on, Felix uses his fastball more often," Gonzalez said. "When someone's on, he'll go more to his off-speed. He left me a slider right over plate."
The Padres lead baseball with a 3.13 earned run average, have allowed the fewest runs (142) and the fewest home runs (11). Opponents are hitting just .232 against them.
After allowing back-to-back singles to lead off the ninth inning, Hoffman settled down to get the final three outs for his 11th save in 13 opportunities.
"It got a little dicey out there, that's for sure," Hoffman said. "You just slow things down a little, make your pitches."
Black, pressed on Germano's status, said he expects him to make his next scheduled start.
"I definitely think I've merited a job here," Germano said. "I'm not trying to get caught up in it, just take one start at a time and not get ahead of myself."
- With his leadoff single, Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He also extended his multi-hit streak to seven games with an eight-inning single. Suzuki is hitting .567 (17 of 30) during those seven games.
- the Padres leads the all-time series with the Mariners, 28-25. Seattle still holds a 99-80 interleague play record.
- the San Diego left 15 batters on in the game.