SAN FRANCISCO -- Since the calendar flipped to September, there has been no better pitching staff in baseball than San Diego's. Manager Bud Black knew his team was performing well on the mound lately, but even he was surprised to hear his team's 2.75 ERA entering Friday was tops in the game this month.
"See? You guys got some info," Black told a small group of reporters before Friday's nightcap against the Giants. "When you lead the Majors in pitching in a month, you're going to win. You're going to win Major League Baseball games."
Lighthearted analysis aside, the affable manager was quick to credit his bullpen -- contributors like closer Huston Street (2.38 ERA), Nick Vincent (2.20) and Joe Thatcher (2.10). The Padres have been out of contention in the NL West for a few weeks but have still fared well against playoff-bound competition, recently winning series against the Braves and the Pirates.
The team also entered the final series against the Giants having taken three out of four against the D-backs. As Black also pointed out, the team has played better than .500 ball (70-69) since stumbling to a 5-15 record to start the season.
"We've been throwing the ball as good as we have all year," Black said.
Ross aims to end '13 with another solid start
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tyson Ross, who grew up across the Bay in Oakland, figures to have a big cheering contingent Sunday when he takes the mound against the Giants for the season finale. Not only will he be trying to pitch well in front of his family and friends, but he will be trying to keep up his string of strong performances that have him poised for a spot in the 2014 Padres rotation.
"Things are just starting to come together, and we've got a good coaching staff here," Ross said. "I was lucky to get back into the rotation to get that chance."
Ross made three starts to begin the year before spending time in Triple-A Tucson to work with his mechanics. He returned as a reliever but has been a mainstay in the team's rotation since the All-Star break, posting a 3-4 record with a 2.80 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 74 innings of work. In his latest start, against Arizona, he matched his career high with eight innings while allowing just one run.
"Since he was re-inserted into the rotation, he has really taken off; there's no doubt about it," manager Bud Black said. "Tyson has pitched outstanding. The won-loss [record] really doesn't indicate it. ... If he continues to pitch like this moving into next year, a lot of good things are in store for him."
Black pointed to Ross' ability to lower his walks and hits allowed, while noting that the team helped Ross make a few tweaks to his approach. The manager added that Ross' stride on the mound has been slightly altered and that they have told him to focus on one fastball grip, his two-seamer, whereas he used to have three variations of the pitch.
Ross has made starts before as a member of the Oakland A's in 2012, but he said he was encouraged by the bigger role he had been able to carve out this year.
"It's always been the goal," Ross said. "It's been fun to have such a supportive staff that's believed in me and given me the opportunity to do this. I'm just taking my opportunity and running with it."
Black likely to witness departure of Giants duo
SAN FRANCISCO -- Much of the speculation out of San Francisco has centered on the offseason fates of Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum. With Zito being a prime candidate to receive a club buyout and Lincecum expected to test free agency, Padres manager Bud Black tried to envision the NL West without the two Giants pitchers.
Black joined the Padres in 2007, the same year Zito and Lincecum made their Giants debuts. For what it's worth, Black said he would be surprised if the Giants could not strike a deal to bring back Lincecum next year.
"I think that's going to happen," Black said. "But, hey, if it didn't, I'd hope that we get in line. ... He'd be interesting."
• Black said Friday that backup catcher Rene Rivera was in Puerto Rico with his family, as his wife expected to give birth to twins Saturday. "She tried to hang in there until season's end," Black said with a laugh.
• Black said Street would be unavailable to pitch Friday because he appeared in three out of the past four contests.
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.