SD@NYM: Stults strikes out seven over five innings

DENVER -- Pitcher Eric Stults gave the Padres exactly what it needed Thursday -- five shutout innings in a 2-1 victory over the Mets at Citi Field -- the first victory for the team in three games.

Stults wishes he could have given a little more in terms of innings, although the Mets were able to drive up his pitch count with 21 foul balls over five innings -- including eight in the first inning and seven in the fourth.

"There were a lot of long at-bats," said Padres manager Bud Black. "The grinding kind of at-bats, the win-the-battle at-bats. And we [Stults] won most of those."

Stults, who threw 95 pitches, allowed three hits, two walks and had seven strikeouts. The strikeouts had a part in driving up his pitch count, but so did the fouls balls.

"They were fouling some good pitches off. I don't think that's a bad thing," Stults said. "But obviously, as a pitcher, you want to me efficient. For as long as I can remember, coaches have always stressed putting the ball in play. [A bevy of foul balls is] not something you want to make a habit of."

The more pitches you throw a particular hitter, Stults said, the more you want to get the at-bat over -- but it also heightens how much you want to win that at-bat.

"There are some at-bats where you've thrown everything and you just want to get it over with. But you also don't want to give in," Stults said. "You're throwing good pitches and he's fouling off good pitches. If you're going to eight to 10 pitches to a hitter, you want to come out on top just like he does."

Headley hopes to return by end of April

SD@LAA: Headley jams thumb breaking up double play

DENVER -- Come Monday, Padres third baseman Chase Headley could have a better idea of when he will be able to return from the disabled list.

Headley, who fractured the tip of his left thumb on March 17, is itching to play and isn't just eyeing the opportunity to begin a Minor League rehabilitation stint. He's actually aiming higher.

"This is just my goal, this isn't based on the doctors' goal, but I think there's a pretty good chance I can be playing in Major League games by the end of the month," Headley said Friday.

Headley is traveling with the team on its first road trip of the season. He'll return to San Diego after Sunday's game in Denver and will likely have an X-ray done on his thumb on Monday, the team's off-day.

"I think [the test] will give us a better idea. I don't know if it will give us a specific timetable, but if they go in and see there's some healing, maybe I can start hitting off a tee," Headley said.

Headley has taken some one-handed swings and even taken ground balls before games with his left hand wrapped behind his back. He's hopeful that next week he'll be able to do more.

"The big thing is we've got to make sure it's enough to withstand swinging and catching balls before we start up with more," said Headley, who is actually eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday.

"I hate to say that we're going to come out [of the X-ray] with a concrete plan, but I think we'll find out if we need another week of healing or if it's good enough to start doing more."

Headley -- who will certainly need a few Minor League at-bats before he returns -- was told at the time of the injury that the recovery period would be between four and six weeks.

That Headley's recovery is moving along without much of a hitch thus far was good news to his manager, Bud Black.

"That's good that he's feeling better," Black said. "He's getting there."

Prospect Ross earns first pro win in '13 debut

Top Prospects: Joe Ross, RHP, Padres

DENVER -- It was hard to tell who was more excited about the pitching performance of Padres Minor League pitcher Joe Ross -- his brother or his former pitching coach.

Ross, the Padres' No. 13 prospect according to MLB.com, allowed one hit in five scoreless innings of Class A Fort Wayne's 5-2 victory over Great Lakes in the Midwest League opener for both teams on Thursday.

Tyson Ross, the Padres' No. 5 starter who makes his organizational debut Saturday, knew his brother was pitching but didn't know how he fared until Padres bullpen coach Willie Blair, the pitching coach last season in Fort Wayne, told him as the team was flying from New York to Denver to start a series Friday against the Rockies.

"Willie came up to me on the plane and told me he got his first win," Tyson Ross said. "Willie had him last year in Fort Wayne. He was just as excited as I was. He was really excited."

Joe Ross, 19, was the 25th overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft by the Padres. He was limited to 54 2/3 innings last season because of right shoulder inflammation. On Thursday, the younger Ross struck out four, walked one and got eight ground-ball outs.

"It was a Minor League win, but it's still important. Once you start winning, you figure out how to do it," Tyson Ross said.

Short hops

• Jesus Guzman got his first start of the season on Friday against the Rockies, getting the nod at first base. Guzman, a career .309 hitter against left-handed pitchers, has two hits in six at-bats against Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis, including a triple and a home run. "I don't want to go too long before a guy gets a start," said Black. "You've got to use your bench, you've got to use them all."