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Padres 5, Braves 4

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ATLANTA (AP)

Mat Latos says people shouldn't count out the San Diego Padres.

Yes, his team is seven games under .500, but San Diego's ace thinks the Padres are capable of making a second-half run in the National League West.

''We have a lot of confidence,'' Latos said, ''but we also believe we can do a lot better.''

Ryan Ludwick had an RBI single in the three-run seventh, Heath Bell struggled to earn a fourth straight save and the Padres beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 on Tuesday night for their season-high fourth consecutive victory.

The Padres haven't won four consecutive games since they had a five-game streak last Aug. 15-19. They also took a series against the Braves for just the second time in the last 13 tries.

Ludwick, who went 4 for 5, has hit safely in 15 of 18 games, raising his batting average 77 points to .258 since May 10. He finished the month with 23 RBIs.

''You see a real confident player now,'' San Diego manager Bud Black said. ''He's making hard contact with the ball.''

Bell survived a tough ninth to earn his 14th in 15 chances. He retired pinch-hitter Joe Mather on foul popup before walking walked Jordan Schafer and getting Martin Prado to fly out before Chipper Jones' RBI single scored Schafer from second.

Bell forced Brian McCann to fly out to end it, marking the second time in his career, and first since last Aug. 10-13, that he got a save in four straight games.

Latos (3-6) allowed five hits and two runs with four walks and seven strikeouts in six innings.

''My fastball command wasn't there as much as I'd like,'' the right-hander said. ''Earlier, I was getting behind in the count too much.''

Latos lowered his ERA 11 points to 3.97 and closed May with a 3-2 record and a 3.38 ERA.

''It wasn't smooth sailing from the outset,'' Black said. ''He was in position to have some short innings but couldn't put guys away. I thought the hard slider was his good pitch later in the game tonight, the one he throws with velocity. When he has good depth to it, they swing over the top and miss it.''

San Diego, which finished with 14 hits, took a 5-2 lead in the seventh with RBI singles off rookie reliever Cory Gearrin from Chris Denorfia, Ludwick and Jorge Cantu.

Denorfia went 3 for 5 and scored two runs.

San Diego took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI double from Chase Headley that scored Jason Bartlett from first.

Freddie Freeman put the Braves ahead 2-1 with a two-run double that scored Brian McCann from second and Eric Hinske from first.

Mike Minor (0-2) couldn't hold a one-run lead in the fourth. Denorfia led off with a double, moved to third on Bartlett's single and scored to make it 2-2 on Headley's double-play groundout.

Minor, who was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after the game, faced one batter in the seventh, walking leadoff pinch-hitter Eric Patterson before Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez brought in Gearrin.

In six innings, Minor allowed eight hits and three runs with three walks and four strikeouts. He dropped to 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA in his last seven starts, a span that began last Sept. 5.

''They were staying on pitches,'' Minor said. ''I threw a couple good pitches and they hit them pretty hard. They're good hitters. The breaking ball obviously wasn't there again. I was throwing a lot of fastballs in.''

Jones followed in the Braves' seventh with an RBI single off San Diego's first reliever, Luke Gregorson, to make it 5-3. Left-hander Cory Luebke recorded the third out with a three-pitch strikeout of Brian McCann.

Freeman went 3 for 4. He and Jones were the only Braves with more than one hit.

Notes: Padres CF Cameron Maybin underwent an MRI that showed no structural damage in his right knee, but Black said he will go on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday. OF Aaron Cunningham will be called up from Triple-A Tucson to take Maybin's place on the roster. ... Slumping Braves 2B Dan Uggla, whose average dropped to .178 in Monday's loss, was held out of the lineup. He pinch-ran for Jones in the ninth. ... Minor's first career hit in the third, erased by Schafer's double-play groundout. ... Prado ended a 19-game hitting streak at Turner Field, going 0 for 4.

Tagged: Braves, Padres, Chipper Jones, Ryan Ludwick, Heath Bell, Brian McCann, Chris Denorfia, Jordan Schafer, Mat Latos, Mike Minor

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