Though he barely made San Diego's rotation out of spring training, Drew Pomeranz has been one of the team's most pleasant surprises.
Now the left-hander will try to continue one of the best starts to a season in franchise history Sunday when the visiting Padres look to bounce back and take two of three from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
San Diego manager Andy Green took a chance on Pomeranz (4-4, 1.70 ERA) at the end of a shaky spring performance, naming him the fifth starter even though most believed he'd work out of the bullpen.
The 2010 first-round draft pick has since made his skipper look like a genius, leading the Padres (20-30) in wins and strikeouts (60). His ERA is second to Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and only former San Diego Cy Young Award winners Randy Jones and Jake Peavy have posted lower marks through their first nine starts.
Pomeranz has allowed three runs over 31 innings in his last five outings. He gave up two hits and overcame a season-high four walks over seven shutout innings in Monday's 1-0 loss at San Francisco.
"Seven very strong innings - there's nothing more you can ask for," Green told MLB's official website. "(He) gave us an opportunity to win the baseball game. That's what you want out of your starting pitching."
Pomeranz seeks his fourth scoreless effort in five starts as the Padres try to avoid their 10th loss in 13 games. Their rally from a six-run deficit fell short in Saturday's 8-7 loss that evened the series.
The 27-year-old is 0-2 with a 7.91 ERA in seven appearances against the Diamondbacks, though this will be his first start since 2013.
Welington Castillo has gone 2 for 4 with a home run off him, while slugger Paul Goldschmidt is 4 for 9 with a homer and two doubles.
Goldschmidt had a two-run home run and a double Saturday and Michael Bourn went 3 for 4 with a triple and two RBIs as Arizona (22-29) held off San Diego in the ninth inning to end a four-game skid.
The Diamondbacks seek only their second back-to-back victories since a season high-tying five-game winning streak from May 6-10.
The offensive outburst was a welcome sign after they totaled 11 runs and went 4 for 32 with runners in scoring position during the slide.
Arizona hopes to continue that production for right-hander Archie Bradley (1-0, 7.84), who manager Chip Hale announced would be recalled from Triple-A Reno to replace the injured Shelby Miller.
Bradley ranks among Pacific Coast League leaders with a 1.99 ERA, but he's given up nine runs over 10 1/3 innings in two MLB starts.
The Padres had totaled 15 runs and hit .173 in losses in their previous 11 games before Yangervis Solarte and Melvin Upton Jr. teamed for four of the team's 10 hits Saturday.
Solarte has found a nice groove at the plate, going 6 for 14 with three homers, two doubles and seven RBIs in his last three games.
Matt Kemp went deep for the second straight contest and he's 6 for 16 with three homers in his last four meetings. His 33 homers versus Arizona are second among active players behind Adrian Gonzalez.