SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Stairs has almost exclusively been used as a pinch-hitter this season, as he's made just 16 starts for the Padres.
Nearly a quarter of those starts have come in the past week.
Entering Sunday, Stairs had gotten the nod in left field in four of the Padres' last 10 games, partly because of a back injury to Will Venable and partly to get an experienced left-handed power bat in the lineup for an offense that has struggled in recent days.
"I think it's just [relying] on the old veteran to try to come through and get the big hits," Stairs said. "The older guys, you don't put so much pressure on yourself, because we've been in the situations where we've failed and succeeded. It's just another game."
Stairs wasn't in Sunday's lineup against left-handed Jonathan Sanchez, though it was a smart bet that he might get an at-bat sometime in Sunday's game.
Stairs has recorded three hits in 10 at-bats in that 10-game span, with his biggest coming Friday, when he tagged Giants starter Matt Cain for a fourth-inning solo home run that was blasted into AT&T Park's standing-room only area in right field and pushed the Padres' lead to 5-0.
"As a pinch-hitter, when you lose your timing, you usually lose it for about three weeks, which is tough," Stairs said. "Then when you get a couple starts, if you find your timing, then it's going to be there for quite a while.
"That carries over with confidence. One good swing, it could be a foul ball, and all of a sudden you find your swing again. I've been streaky my whole career."
Starting is fine with Stairs, though he prefers to come off the bench.
"It's nice getting a start once in a while, but I love coming off the bench and being in that big situation," Stairs said.
No matter what role Stairs has been asked to play, though, he has delivered during the past two months. He's batting .297 (11-for-37) since the beginning of August, with four of those 11 hits being home runs.
Headley wants to get bigger for 2011
SAN FRANCISCO -- Unless he hits a home run Sunday, Padres third baseman Chase Headley will finish one home run shy of his career high of 12, a mark he set in 2009.
Headley would like to hit more home runs next season and has figured out a way to help him get there -- to add more weight. There's a caveat, though: He doesn't want to risk any of his mobility that has helped become one of the better defensive third basemen in the National League.
"It's a double-edged sword, though, because you don't want to sacrifice mobility," said Headley, who currently weighs 200 pounds.
Headley, when he was an outfielder in 2008 and 2009, played at 230 pounds. He would like to play between 215-220 pounds next season.
"You do feel different [when you're heavier] in the way the ball comes off your bat," he said, "and the way the ball carries. The next step for me is to gain as much muscle that I can, smartly."
Richard reaches pitching milestone
SAN FRANCISCO -- With his outing of 5 2/3 innings against the Giants on Friday, Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard's inning total this season rose to 201 2/3, joining teammate Jon Garland as a member of the 200-inning club.
That marks the first time since 2002 that two Padres have thrown 200 innings in a season, when Brian Lawrence (210 innings) and Brett Tomko (204 1/3 innings) accomplished that feat.
Of course, on-field performance and the ability to stay healthy are big factors that allow a starter to work that many innings. Garland and Richard have answered the call in both areas, with each pitcher making all 33 of their scheduled starts this season while posting a winning record and an ERA below 4.00.
But Richard, whose inning count is a career high, attributes the milestone to much more than his own work.
"It's a credit to our team more than anything," he said. "There are a lot of things that go into it: You have to be scoring runs to have us in, the defense has to be playing well, the catcher's got to be calling a good game. It's not just the individual, but that's a good accomplishment for us."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Gina Mizell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.