- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The San Diego Padres‘ rotation is living up to expectations.

Eric Stults and three relievers combined on a four-hitter and Everth Cabrera hit a go-ahead triple to lead the Padres to a 3-1 victory against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night.

The Padres have the chance to sweep the series on Sunday, a week after taking two of three from the Detroit Tigers.

“From the start, us as a starting five, we felt like we could match up with anybody in baseball,” Stults said. “We felt pretty good about things.”

San Diego has won seven of 10, thanks mostly to the rotation.

“Right now we’re in a nice run of starting pitching,” manager Bud Black said. “There’s been some solid work by our starters. Starting pitching is so important to a team’s success. They’re doing their part.”

The Giants lost their third straight game. It was the first time in nine games the Giants weren’t involved in a one-run decision.

Stults (1-2) kept the already struggling Giants off balance and largely off the base paths, allowing one run and three hits in six innings, with two strikeouts and no walks.

Michael Morse homered off Stults on a 2-0 pitch leading off the fifth, his third. Other than that, all the Giants got off the lefty were singles by Joaquin Arias and starter Tim Hudson.

Stults was backed by some nice defense, including center fielder Alexi Amarista’s diving catch of Hunter Pence’s blooper for the second out of the first inning.

“I was able to keep my pitch count down, and I think it was just getting strike one,” Stults said. “They’re a pretty aggressive team and I had a hunch they would be swinging early. I was able to execute some pitches down in the zone. I was able to stay away from the heart of the plate.”

Stults had thrown only 85 pitches and wanted to go back out for the seventh inning, but Black chose to send out Nick Vincent, who struck out Buster Posey, Morse and Pablo Sandoval.

Joaquin Benoit pitched the ninth for his first save.

The Giants have scored only three runs in their last 28 innings.

“The only way to get hits is to swing the bat,” Morse said. “Right now, I don’t think we’re pressing. I don’t think we are trying to do anything out of the ordinary. I just think we hit a rough spot. Our team is too good for us to be stuck in this for too much longer.”

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