Braves-Padres Preview

After facing a pair of division leaders on the first two stops

of their 10-game road trip, the Atlanta Braves get to face an

opponent with a losing record in the San Diego Padres.

It may not be much of a reprieve.

The Braves will go for their third straight win Monday night

when they open a three-game series against the Padres, who look to

win their eighth straight as they give the ball to top prospect

Casey Kelly for his major league debut.

Since taking three of four against San Diego earlier this month,

Atlanta (73-55) has gone 0-2-1 in its last three series. After

dropping two of three at NL East-leading Washington to begin their

road trip, the Braves salvaged a four-game split at West leader San

Francisco by winning the final two contests.

Brian McCann went 3 for 4 in Sunday’s 7-1 victory while Jason

Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco homered to back seven

strong innings from Tim Hudson. Paul Janish added a two-run

triple.

Heyward has homered in three straight games and is batting .391

over his last 12 with five homers and 12 RBIs.

“It’s good to salvage a series going down 0-2 against a team

that’s hot,” McCann said after Atlanta scored seven runs for the

second straight contest.

While the Padres (59-70) are far from the top of a division,

they’re nonetheless the hottest team the Braves will have faced on

their trip. San Diego returns home riding a seven-game winning

streak after completing a three-game sweep of Arizona with a 5-4

victory Sunday.

Edinson Volquez pitched seven effective innings, shortstop

Everth Cabrera made a spectacular diving play in the eighth and the

bottom five hitters in the San Diego order drove in four runs.

“When (seven wins in a row) happens, you are doing everything,”

manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official website. “That’s what

winning streaks are all about. If one of those falters, you more

than likely will lose a game or two.”

San Diego is averaging 5.7 runs and batting .329 during its

seven-game run, its longest since winning eight in a row in

2010.

The Padres will try to provide similar support for Kelly as he

makes his major league debut.

The key acquisition in the 2010 trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez

to Boston, Kelly is healthy after missing nearly four months with a

strained throwing elbow.

The 22-year-old right-hander is 0-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three

starts for Double-A San Antonio.

“There are Major League debuts across the landscape of our game,

almost daily sometimes,” Black said. “With Casey, it’s a little

different. He’s more of a higher profile guy but I don’t want to

put too much weight on (Monday’s) game just because it’s unfair for

a lot of reasons.”

Atlanta counters with Paul Maholm (11-8, 3.47), who is 2-2 with

a 2.40 ERA in four starts for the Braves since they acquired him

from the Chicago Cubs.

The left-hander gave up four runs in seven innings of a 4-1 loss

to Washington last Tuesday.

Maholm is 1-4 with a 4.24 ERA in six starts against the Padres,

but picked up his first win against them Aug. 15 after scattering

one run and five hits over seven innings of a 6-1 win while

striking out seven.