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Plenty of pitching helps Padres jump AL East powers to top spot

With the exception of veteran Jon Garland, the Padres starters are virtual unknowns -- at least they were until this season, when the names Mat Latos, Wade LeBlanc, Kevin Correia and Clayton Richard keep popping up on the winner's line of the box score.

Since Aug. 8, the Padres have won 13 of 16 games, and the starting pitcher has earned the win in each of those victories. Twice in that stretch San Diego has gone on five-game winning streaks with each member of the rotation picking up a victory in succession.

The 22-year-old Latos is having the best season of the quintet, going 13-5 with a 2.33 ERA, but he will have his innings limited down the stretch. Naturally, the Padres may have an overqualified spot starter to spell him in September, as former All-Star Chris Young could be ready to return from injury in the season's final month.

The Padres have MLB's best bullpen ERA (2.75) and third-best starters' ERA (3.49) and it is on the strength of this pitching that San Diego takes over as the new No. 1. Not bad for a club that debuted at No. 24 in the first PRs of the year back on April 15, which also happens to be the only previous time a team other than the Yankees or Rays held the top spot.

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