SAN DIEGO - Roy Oswalt allowed one hit in six innings. That, of course, was not nearly enough for the Phillies to avoid tense moments in the final three innings Thursday against the Padres once the bullpen was asked to record the final nine outs.
The reliever roulette yielded Antonio Bastardo cleaning up David Herndon's mess, then surviving the eighth and giving way to 39-year-old Jose Contreras, pitching for the fourth time in five days to nail down the save.
It was a 3-0 win for the Phillies, their eighth straight in San Diego dating back to 2008, and far closer than it should have been. The Padres, now shut out five times in their first 19 games, made things easier. The best hit of the night from a San Diegan was the tackle of a fan sprinting across the field by a security guard in the ninth inning.
The Phillies were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They stranded 12 runners in all. The two biggest hits were solo home runs in the second inning by Ben Francisco and Brian Schneider off Padres starter Mat Latos.
Oswalt, pitching for the first time since leaving a start with mid-back spasms, made those runs stand up. But because the Phillies were not able to pull away, it made things complicated.
There were scenes like Kyle Kendrick warming in the bullpen with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a three-run game. Ryan Madson had thrown 56 pitches in the previous four days and Contreras 46, so the back of the bullpen was light.
Still, manager Charlie Manuel turned to Contreras. On his 26th pitch of the night, he caught pinch-hitter Brad Hawpe looking as the potential tying run to end the game. It was his fifth save of the season and third in a span of five days.
Bastardo picked up the slack, recording four outs and wiggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by inducing a flyout to right off the bat of Alberto Gonzalez. He struck out two as the bridge to Contreras.
Even with 12 combined walks, the teams did little scoring.
Oswalt threw more sinkers than usual - 65 of his 106 pitches (61.3 percent) were sinkers. He threw only two four-seam fastballs and the average velocity of his fastball and sinker was 91 mp.h., a slight click off his usual speed.
It didn't matter. The result was six solid innings, equaling the total in each of his first three starts in 2011.
He could have gone longer Thursday if it weren't for back-to-back strikeouts of Jorge Cantu and Chase Headley in the fourth inning that required 21 pitches. Cantu fouled off nine pitches before striking out on a curveball, the 14th pitch Oswalt threw him.
The first Padres hit of the game came on pitch No. 90 from Oswalt, a 3-2 sinker to eighth hitter Chris Denorfia, who dropped one into short right field.
Latos was not economical with his pitches, either. He left the game unable to finish the fifth inning, kicking everything he could in the Padres dugout on the way to the home clubhouse.
The 23-year-old threw 26 pitches in the first but avoided trouble by striking out Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez with two runners in scoring position. (Howard's career line against Latos now stands at 0 for 8 with eight strikeouts and one walk.)
None of the five walks Latos issued resulted in Phillies runs, but they ensured an early exit. In the first four innings, the Phillies spared Latos by going 1 for 9 with five strikeouts when runners were in scoring position.
Nonetheless, it ended with handshakes around Contreras, a familiar sight these days.