Clayton Richard's 2011 season ended in July when he had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder to clear an impingement and clean up the labrum.
Less than 13 months later, Richard leads the National League with 26 starts and 176 innings pitched.
Richard on Sunday held the Giants to an unearned run on five hits over eight innings. He retired 20 of the last 24 hitters he faced, including the last seven in a row.
Even though he gave up five runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings Tuesday night in Atlanta, Richard is 3-1 over his last five starts with a 2.02 ERA.
And Richard wasn't "100 percent" at the start of Sunday's game. "Once he got his second wind, he rolled," said Padres manager Bud Black. "It always starts with the starting pitcher. A lot of guys contributed. It was a great team win. But Clayton set the tone."
"John Baker and the defense kept me in this one," said Richard, who, as usual, spread the credit to everyone in the clubhouse after becoming the first Padres pitcher to reach 10 wins this season.
Before the game, Black said he was "impressed" by Richard's efforts this season "but not surprised."
"From a fitness standpoint, Clayton might be as good as anyone I've ever been around," said Black. "After his surgery, there was a lot of work that had to be done to fully prepare to come back. Given Clayton's work ethic, I'm sure nothing was ever missed or skipped.
"And he's been extremely honest with us. There's been precedent before of guys coming back like he has. But if you had to pick one guy who you knew could do it, it would be Clayton."
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