ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Thanks to a tip or two from Greg Maddux, Justin Germano is making the most of his opportunity with the San Diego Padres.
Germano won his fifth straight decision since coming up from the minor leagues, helping the first-place Padres remain atop the NL West with a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Thursday.
Germano (5-0) allowed three hits in six innings, walked one and struck out four in his seventh start since being promoted from Triple-A Portland to replace then-injured Clay Hensley. The 24-year-old rookie right-hander, who has a 2.36 ERA, credits four-time NL Cy Young Award winner Maddux with helping him since joining the rotation.
"I pretty much shadow him. Just follow him around and try and get any kind of information I can out of him," Germano said. "He comes up to me, too. And if he sees something, he gives me a little bit of advice. What a great guy to have on our team."
A night after Jake Peavy, Kevin Cameron and Justin Hampson combined to stop the Devil Rays 9-0 for San Diego's major league-leading 10th shutout, Germano and Heath Bell limited Tampa Bay to a double and two singles until Jonny Gomes homered off Doug Brocail with one out in the eighth.
The Padres scored an unearned run off J.P. Howell (1-1) in the first, then put the game out of reach in the eighth when Jose Cruz, Geoff Blum and Khalil Greene had RBI singles and Adrian Gonzalez contributed a run-scoring double for a 5-0 lead.
After scoring 11 runs to win the opener of the three-game series, the Devil Rays had nine hits and were outscored 15-1 in the last two.
"Their pitching is as advertised. ... They lead the majors in ERA for a reason," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Just get the Padres out of town. We got beat by some really good pitching the last couple of nights. That's why they're in first place."
Howell weathered a shaky first to allow two runs and four hits in seven-plus innings. The Padres did the rest of the damage against Gary Glover and recently signed Jay Witasick, who allowed two ninth-inning runs in his Devil Rays debut.
"I thought their guy, after the first inning, baffled us," San Diego manager Bud Black said of Howell. "He changed speeds, mixed in his breaking ball."
San Diego took a 1-0 lead in the first when Cruz walked, moved to third on a double by Gonzalez and scored after third baseman Akinori Iwamura failed to handle Mike Cameron's sharp grounder for an error.
Germano walked Carlos Pena with one out in the second, then got out of the inning when Wigginton grounded into a double play. After Harris doubled with one out in the fourth, Germano struck out Carl Crawford and Greg Norton.
It was the same story in the fifth when Wigginton singled but was stranded after Delmon Young flied out and Germano fanned Raul Casanova. The Padres starter departed after giving up a one-out single to Iwamura and getting Harris to ground into an inning-ending double play in the sixth.
Tampa Bay wasted another opportunity in the seventh after Bell walked two batters and moved them into scoring position with a wild pitch. The reliever escaped, protecting a 1-0 lead for Germano, by striking out Delmon Young.
"I knew I had it in me. It was just a matter of time and opportunity," said Germano, who was traded twice and released once before winding up in the Padres organization. "As long as I stuck to my game plan, I knew I could be successful."
Devil Rays OF Elijah Dukes, given Wednesday off for personal reasons, was available off the bench but didn't play. Young, the regular right fielder, started in center for the second straight game and Gomes, recalled from Triple-A Durham when 2B B.J. Upton (left quadriceps strain) was placed on the 15-day DL Wednesday night, was in right . ... The Padres have won four consecutive road series and nine of the last 10. ... Padres 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff left the game in the fourth inning after he hurt himself swinging the bat. The Padres said he had a lower back strain and is day to day. ... Crawford was 1-for-13 with eight strikeouts in the series.