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Do-it-all Stammen excels against former team

Veteran reliever pitches two scoreless innings vs. Nats on Thursday
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- For seven seasons, Craig Stammen felt at home in the Nationals' clubhouse. It didn't take long for the veteran right-hander to begin feeling the same way in San Diego.

Stammen faced his former club Thursday in a 2-1 Nationals victory at Petco Park. He pitched to five batters and recorded six outs, working out of some trouble in the sixth before pitching a perfect seventh.

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SAN DIEGO -- For seven seasons, Craig Stammen felt at home in the Nationals' clubhouse. It didn't take long for the veteran right-hander to begin feeling the same way in San Diego.

Stammen faced his former club Thursday in a 2-1 Nationals victory at Petco Park. He pitched to five batters and recorded six outs, working out of some trouble in the sixth before pitching a perfect seventh.

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"You always wonder what it's going to be like on a different team," said Stammen, who joined the Padres during the offseason. "For me, it was post-injury on a different team. I feel at home here, like I did when I was there. That's fun to feel that way, and feel connected to these guys in here."

In April 2015, Stammen sustained a torn flexor muscle in his pitching arm. After a long recovery period, he returned to the big leagues with the Padres this season.

Stammen has since carved himself a niche as the do-anything man in San Diego's bullpen. Since Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter were dealt to Kansas City, Stammen has been thrust into high-leverage situations, and met every challenge.

That was the case again Thursday night. In a 1-1 game, Stammen was called upon with a runner on first and no outs in the sixth. He got Anthony Rendon to fly out to left befere Matt Wieters bounced into an inning-ending double play.

"He can come in and give you two innings early," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He can give you the eighth inning late. He's been, hands down, our best guy with traffic. Any time there are baserunners on, he's the guy to come in and get out of that."

That hasn't been the case all year. Stammen struggled in April, allowing 11 runs in 11 2/3 innings. And those numbers don't include the slew of inherited runs he allowed to score.

"I had been pretty good at it in the past, and I kind of stunk in April, giving up a lot of inherited runs," Stammen said. "I made a point to really focus on that, work on my thought process with people on base, really just try to execute pitches.

"Kind of the way to do it is just to forget about the guys on base."

Since the start of May, Stammen has become one of the club's most reliable relievers. He owns a 2.60 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in that time.

Stammen also brings a wealth of experience -- including a couple trips to the postseason -- to one of the league's youngest bullpens. What exactly can he offer some of those young relievers?

"They can see how I've gone about my business and had success in the big leagues," Stammen said. "Whether that works for them or not, they at least have an avenue to try something."

He paused a second and grinned.

"And hopefully when I talk to them, they listen to me a little bit, too," Stammen added.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Craig Stammen