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Padres 'pen remains rock solid, backs up rotation

ST. LOUIS -- After some much-needed rest during the All-Star break, the Padres' bullpen has gotten off to a strong start in the second half.

Aside from a three-run, two-inning outing from Sean O'Sullivan, making his first relief appearance since 2011, the 'pen limited a dangerous Cardinals offense to one hit and and two walks over 4 2/3 innings of relief.

"That's always been a strength of ours, the bullpen," Thatcher said. "We got worn out pretty good in the first half, and you know, we got a chance to get a couple days off. Everybody is fresh now, got a chance to step back and regroup a little bit."

Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer, Joe Thatcher and Huston Street combined to pitch four hitless innings Saturday night, with Street earning his 16th save.

"That's what our bullpen mostly does, is go out there and throw strikes and get outs," said Vincent, who has retired 14 of his last 16 batters. "When we get leads, our bullpen can come in and shut the door."

The Padres relievers are holding opponents to a .252 batting average and posted a 3.39 ERA heading into Sunday's series finale in St. Louis. The 'pen has been called upon often this season to pick up inconsistent starting pitching, making the four-day break last week all the more important.

"It's still going to be a long second half," Vincent said. "It just gets longer and longer as you get to the end. Games mean more every time."

Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for
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