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SD@COL: Stults shuts down Rox for fifth victory

The Padres are suddenly within shouting distance of the top of the National League West.

Winners of three straight and six of its last eight, San Diego trails the division-leading D-backs by just five games and is within two games of .500 for the first time since May 20.

The Padres will have a chance this weekend to inch even closer to the top when they host Arizona for three-games at Petco Park beginning Friday.

Taking the mound for San Diego in the opener will be Eric Stults, who has come on strong in May and June after a disappointing April.

The southpaw posted a 5.67 ERA in the first month, but since then, he had a 2.66 ERA in May and enters Friday with a 1.93 ERA in June. The 33-year-old last took the hill on Saturday, beating the Rockies in Colorado by tossing seven strong frames and allowing just two runs (one earned) on seven hits.

"There have been a lot of starts like that as of late from Eric," said Padres manager Bud Black after the game.

The D-backs beat Stults back on May 24, getting to him for four runs over 6 1/3 innings as they won, 5-2.

Opposing Stults for Arizona will be Trevor Cahill. The right-hander was among the statistical leaders in the National League in just about every pitching category until a recent rough stretch. Cahill has surrendered a combined 13 earned runs his last two outings over 8 2/3 innings.

His last time out the Giants scored eight times off him in 3 2/3 frames.

"We'd like to have better performances, but it wasn't long ago that the starters were dominating," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said after the game. "It's the ups and downs of the season. We'll have to reflect on what happened and have [Cahill] turned around for his next start. It's just part of going through a season."

Padres: Decker replaces Maybin
• San Diego recalled Jaff Decker from Triple-A Tucson on Wednesday, replacing outfielder Cameron Maybin, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The 23-year-old Decker hit .240 this season in the Minors, with five homers and 20 RBIs.

Decker got 40 at-bats in Spring Training and had a batting average of .175 with one home run, five RBIs and 11 strikeouts, which he said could help him.

"Just getting used to big league pitching and being around the guys learning a lot," Decker said.

Decker did not appear in Wednesday's game against the Braves, so the Phoenix native could make his Major League debut against his hometown team this weekend.

D-backs: No suspensions yet
• Major League Baseball is evaluating the D-backs' brawl with the Dodgers on Tuesday night and hasn't levied any fines or suspensions.

Arizona's Ian Kennedy, Gibson and assistant coach Turner Ward were ejected in the fracas.

"I think we'll wait and see," Kennedy said. "I know there's a lot of video to be seen. There were a lot of punches thrown, and I looked at it last night and there weren't a lot from us."

Worth noting
• Heath Bell has converted eight straight save opportunities for the D-backs. He surrendered two runs in the series finale in Los Angeles on Wednesday but had been staked to a four-run cushion.

• The Padres' sweep of the Braves this week was the club's fifth sweep of the season.

• In 10 plate appearances against Cahill, San Diego's Alexi Amarista is 5-for-9 with a double, a homer, a walk and three RBIs.

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