Padres-Braves Preview

The San Diego Padres are finally showing some signs of life
offensively after a two-week slump.

They’re also winning in Atlanta after struggling there for more
than two decades.

Seeking their first sweep in Atlanta in 22 years, the Padres
will take their hacks against Braves starter Tommy Hanson, who has
routinely shut down San Diego’s offense.

The Padres (24-31) have batted .287 and scored 15 runs during a
four-game winning streak While those offensive numbers may not be
eyepopping, they’re far superior to the .183 average and 13 runs
San Diego put up while dropping eight of its precious 10.

San Diego had 14 hits in Tuesday’s 5-4 victory over Atlanta,
reaching double digits for the third straight game. The Padres, in
the midst of their longest winning streak since a five-game run
Aug. 15-19, amassed 10 hits only once in their previous 12
contests.

Ryan Ludwick had four of San Diego’s hits Tuesday, and is
batting .394 with four homers and 20 RBIs in his last 18 games,
raising his average 77 points to .258.

“You see a real confident player now,” manager Bud Black said.
“He’s making hard contact with the ball.”

Ludwick is also hitting .375 with three home runs and eight RBIs
in nine games against Atlanta since the start of last season.

“We have a lot of confidence,” said Matt Latos, Tuesday’s
winning pitcher, “but we also believe we can do a lot better.”

Winning the series finale could provide a major confidence
boost.

The Padres, who dropped two of three to the Braves (30-26) in
San Diego in April, are trying for their first three-game sweep in
Atlanta since Aug. 1-3, 1989. They’re also trying to beat Hanson
(5-4, 2.80 ERA) for the first time.

The Atlanta right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA in four career
starts against San Diego, but hasn’t pitched his best in his last
two outings.

He gave up three runs, four hits and three walks in 4 2-3
innings of Friday’s 5-1 loss to Cincinnati. Hanson has a 5.06 ERA
with seven walks over 10 2-3 innings in his last two starts after
posting a 1.38 ERA while walking seven over 32 2-3 innings in his
previous five.

One of those impressive starts came against the Padres on April
27, when he allowed four hits while striking out 10 and walking one
in seven innings of a 7-0 victory.

While the Padres are looking for a rare sweep in Atlanta, the
Braves are trying to avoid getting swept at Turner Field for the
first time since Oct. 1-9, 2009, when Washington took four in a
row. Atlanta had won 12 of 16 at home prior to this series.

Chipper Jones had two hits and two RBIs for the Braves on
Tuesday, and Brian McCann doubled to extend his hitting streak to
six games. Both could be poised for big games in the finale.

Jones is 5 for 8 against scheduled starter Padres Clayton
Richard (2-5, 4.42), while McCann is 3 for 5 with a pair of
doubles.

Richard allowed one run, three hits and three walks in seven
innings of Friday’s 2-1 loss to Washington but didn’t receive a
decision.

The left-hander has yielded three runs or fewer in five of his
last seven starts, but has received either one run of support or
none in six of those outings.

Richard has been backed by one total run of support while losing
all three of his career starts against the Braves, but he’s also
posted a 7.90 ERA versus Atlanta.