SAN DIEGO -- The numbers Padres manager Bud Black saw in the first inning Wednesday from pitcher Clayton Richard were enough to make him smile.

No, not the three outs Richard got in the first inning against the Dodgers, thanks in part to an inning-ending double play.

What Black liked most was the Richard's use of his fastball and the velocity that he saw from the left-hander.

"I think he was more effective. He's a fastball pitcher," Black said. "There have been a number of his games this year where he moved into his velocity [as the game wore on]. [Wednesday] he had it from the outset."

Black saw fastballs of 92, 93 and 94 mph in the first inning, certainly an uptick from what Richard produced earlier this month when he allowed 19 earned runs in his prior four starts.

Richard said pitching coach Darren Balsley noticed that he wasn't using his fastball as often in Richard's last start in Atlanta. So throwing the fastball, which has a sinking action that induces a lot of ground balls, became the point of emphasis.

The result? Richard allowed one run in six innings in the Padres' 6-1 victory over the Dodgers.

"[Balsley] noticed I wasn't pitching as well with my fastball as I'm capable of," Richard said. "So we made that pitch a point of emphasis. Sometimes I was thinking too far ahead in the count and I just got away from it."

Frieri fills important relief role for Padres

SAN DIEGO -- With setup man Mike Adams on the disabled list since July 16 (retroactive to July 12), Padres rookie reliever Ernesto Frieri has already been called upon to fill some important innings since the All-Star break.

And Frieri has delivered so far, allowing one hit and one walk in 4 2/3 shutout innings since being called up from Triple-A Portland.

Even more impressive has been Frieri's strikeout rate, as he has fanned nine of the 16 batters he has faced in his five appearances.

"There's always been a sort of quiet confidence to this guy that I saw a couple years ago," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's not afraid of the challenge of pitching. Because of his delivery, he has a great deal of deception. Now, it's just a matter of him getting the ball in the strike zone."

Frieri was arguably put in the most crucial situation of his young career on Wednesday against the Dodgers when he came on to replace San Diego starter Clayton Richard in the seventh inning after the Padres had come back to take a 2-1 lead in the previous frame. He retired both batters he faced, fanning Matt Kemp on three consecutive fastballs and then getting Casey Blake to pop out to second.

"A first-time look for anybody, the pitcher has the advantage," Black said. "He's got a good arm. He has a couple things working in his favor that can get big league hitters out."

Part of Frieri's deceptive delivery comes from an unorthodox stride direction that causes him to throw across his body. But that can also lead to walks -- Frieri had 18 free passes in 37 2/3 innings with Portland -- which is something Black said he would to see Frieri cut down on as he continues to develop.

"Even in Triple-A, the walks were a little high on a scouting scale," Black said. "But there's some signs of potential success based on the low [amount of hits allowed] and the high strikeout [number]. It tells you he's got stuff."

Adams feels 'confident' after bullpen session

SAN DIEGO -- Padres reliever Mike Adams (strained left oblique) threw a third bullpen session prior to Thursday's game against the Dodgers at PETCO Park and may not need a Minor League rehab stint before coming off the 15-day disabled list after all.

Adams, who was eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday, threw for about 10 minutes and said he was encouraged by how the injury responded.

"I had no restrictions and I felt totally confident," Adams said. "[The injury] wasn't in the back of my head. I was able to let go of the ball and able to locate a lot better today than I have been the past two [sessions]."

Padres manager Bud Black said Adams likely will throw a simulated game later this week instead of heading to the Minors, as Class A Lake Elsinore begins a series at Visalia on Friday.

Padres clinch sixth straight winning month

SAN DIEGO -- At 13-8 in July, the Padres have clinched a sixth consecutive month of winning baseball, dating to August 2009.

The Padres are the only National League team and one of only two Major League teams (the Yankees have clinched a winning July record) to finish better than .500 in each of the last six full months of play (August and September 2009; April, May, June and July 2010).