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03/22/10 9:57 PM ET

Increased use of cutter benefits Richard

Left-hander throws six shutout frames vs. Reds on Monday

TUCSON, Ariz. -- No one had to persuade Padres pitcher Clayton Richard to pitch one additional inning on Monday at Tucson Electric Park.

"It is a lot better than 4 2/3 innings when you have thrown too many pitches," Richard said. "It's great at this point of spring to get to the six-inning mark."

Richard, in his best outing of the spring, tossed six scoreless frames in the Padres' 5-4 loss to the Diamondbacks in 10 innings.

Richard, slotted to be the No. 4 starter in the Padres rotation, allowed six hits, two walks with three strikeouts. Better still, Richard, using his cut fastball, got 12 ground-ball outs, four that were turned into double-play balls.

"They definitely played great behind me, I gave them some opportunities by keeping the ball down," Richard said.

Richard entered the game with a 12.15 ERA but worked quickly against Arizona, using a cut fastball with sinker action to it to work over left-handed batters and get others to pound the ball into the grass.

Richard looked much like the pitcher the Padres acquired last July from the White Sox in the Jake Peavy deal and who won five games after that trade with a 0.95 ERA in his last three starts of the regular season.

"He was in and around the strike zone," Padres manager Bud Black said of Richard, who finished with 79 pitches and now has a 6.39 ERA.

Richard was scheduled to go five innings against Arizona but stayed in the game after he completed five innings with 55 pitches. In the sixth inning, he put two baserunners on but struck out Adam LaRoche on a nasty cutter and then, after intentionally walking slugger Mark Reynolds, got Kelly Johnson to ground out to end the inning.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.