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Ross hitting stride in second act with Padres

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN FRANCISCO -- Forget "vintage Tyson Ross." The 2018 version might be even better.

When the Padres inked the veteran right-hander to a Minor League deal in December, they only hoped he might return to his All-Star form from his first stint in San Diego. They've gotten that, and then some in two of his past three starts.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Forget "vintage Tyson Ross." The 2018 version might be even better.

When the Padres inked the veteran right-hander to a Minor League deal in December, they only hoped he might return to his All-Star form from his first stint in San Diego. They've gotten that, and then some in two of his past three starts.

View Full Game Coverage

Ross was excellent again on Tuesday night in San Francisco, tossing six innings of one-run ball, while striking out nine Giants hitters before Eric Hosmer's ninth-inning homer sent the Padres home with a 3-2 victory.

Video: SD@SF: Hosmer smacks go-ahead HR in the 9th

"He's a more mature pitcher now," said Padres manager Andy Green. "... There's more savvy there. There's more comfort on the mound. He seems at ease out there."

Ross' slider was as masterful as it's ever been. He threw his signature pitch 46 times on Tuesday night. He got 12 swings and misses, nine called strikes and only four balls put in play against it.

It's facile to say Ross has returned to his old self. He's adamant that, at 31, he's evolved plenty since his first stint in San Diego.

"I used to be a young gun out there, just slinging as hard as I could and trying to make my slider as big as I could," Ross said. "Now, I know the value in location and changing speeds and just that little bit of late movement off of one pitch to another. I'm not too worried about trying to blow guys away."

Ross owns a 3.28 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings over six starts this season. He flirted with a no-hitter in Arizona last month, before a dud in Denver in his last time out -- likely the residual effects of his throwing 127 pitches while chasing history. That outing appears to be the exception to Ross' new norm.

It's been a particularly satisfying start to the season for Ross, who missed 2016 with shoulder issues before struggling mightily for Texas in '17. Through it all, Ross said he learned to reinvent himself -- to focus on execution over power.

Even when he was sidelined, Ross took studious notes on what made his teammates successful. Physically, he worked tirelessly toward a return. Mentally, he did the same, ensuring that when he did, he'd be effective. All for nights like Tuesday.

"It's fun," Ross said. "It's what I live for. There was a long period of time where I wasn't able to get out there and physically do it. Last year, I was able to physically do it, but I didn't have much success. It's good to get that feeling of being on the mound, doing what I'm doing and executing pitches and winning ballgames."

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

San Diego Padres, Tyson Ross