PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Mat Latos isn't taking anything for granted as he competes for the No. 5 spot in the San Diego Padres' rotation.
Latos retired the first three batters on seven pitches and the San Diego Padres beat a San Francisco Giants split squad 7-1 on Monday night.
"I'm setting my bar as high as I can," said Latos, who made his big league debut last year, going 4-5 with a 4.62 ERA in 10 starts. "I'm not going to back down from any hitter in the box, regardless of who it is. To me, I'm always expecting more of myself."
Latos allowed one run and three hits in four innings while striking out three and walking two.
He struck out leadoff batter Eugenio Velez on three pitches, got Kevin Frandsen to fly out to right with his fourth pitch, then struck out Nate Schierholtz on three pitches.
"I thought Mat had really live stuff the first inning," manager Bud Black said. "He came right out and threw a ton of strikes, and continued on from there. He overthrew some fastballs through the course of the four innings, but overall I thought it was a well-pitched game."
Latos walked Aubrey Huff leading off the second and allowed Francisco Peguero's RBI single with two outs.
Wade LeBlanc, who split last season between San Diego and Triple-A Portland, struck out three and allowed two hits in four scoreless innings.
"There'll be somebody (mad) at the end," Black said about the competition for the fifth spot.
"I'm just trying to make the club like everybody else is," Latos said. "I felt great. I was really happy. I got out of my mechanics a little bit, threw a couple of balls up in the second inning. I made a little bit of an adjustment, then went back at it."
Tony Gwynn Jr. hit a go-ahead, RBI double and Kyle Blanks added a two-run double to highlight the seven-run fifth inning. The Giants committed three errors that inning.
The Giants used several relievers, with Guillermo Mota getting the start. He allowed one hit and struck out three in two scoreless innings, extending his spring scoreless streak to five innings.