Braves-Padres Preview

The Atlanta Braves’ first series sweep of the season came at the

expense of the reigning World Series champions.

Visiting the punchless San Diego Padres may help them prolong

their winning streak.

Atlanta looks to get back to .500 and continue its success at

Petco Park in the opener of a three-game series against the

last-place Padres on Monday night.

The Braves (11-12) began their 10-game road trip by dropping

three of four in Los Angeles before putting together their most

impressive series of the young season, sweeping a three-game set at

San Francisco.

Atlanta capped the sweep Sunday when Nate McLouth’s two-run

single in the 10th inning proved the winning hit in a 9-6

victory.

The Braves, who are also riding their first three-game winning

streak of 2011, now have a chance to climb back to .500 for the

first time since they were 4-4.

“You win three games off the world champs,” third baseman

Chipper Jones said, “and confidence is at a different level.”

The Braves have reason to be confident against the Padres

(8-14). Atlanta has won 12 of its last 16 games at Petco, batting

.301 with 25 homers in those contests.

Jones and Brian McCann have done much of the damage.

Jones has a .397 average with three homers, 18 runs scored and

11 walks over the last 16 games in San Diego. McCann has been even

better, batting .412 with four homers and 20 RBIs in his last 15

contests there.

Atlanta starter Derek Lowe (2-3, 3.25 ERA) could stand to have

Jones, McCann and the rest of the Braves hit better when it’s his

turn in the rotation. The right-hander has received a total of

seven runs of support through five starts.

Lowe didn’t do much to help himself in Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to

the Dodgers. He surrendered five runs and nine hits in three

innings, equaling the total runs he’d given up over his previous

four outings.

The sinkerballer is 1-0 with a 1.40 ERA in his last three starts

against the Padres, and he appears to have a good chance for

similar success Monday. San Diego’s .212 team batting average is

the lowest in the majors.

The Padres (8-14), tied with Houston for the worst record in the

NL, totaled three runs, batted .165 and got shut out twice during a

four-game weekend sweep at the hands of Philadelphia.

“We’ve got to keep working, and we’ve got to grind through

this,” manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official website. “We’ve

got to keep doing our work in the cage and watching video. We have

to keep working our (rear ends) off to get to where we need to

be.”

Probable starter Dustin Moseley (0-3, 1.40) is all too familiar

with San Diego’s offensive shortcomings. The Padres have yet to

score a single run for the right-through four starts. He allowed

one unearned run and five hits in six innings at Chicago on

Wednesday, a game San Diego eventually lost 2-1 in 11 innings.

“It’s frustrating, but you go out there and do your job and

leave it up to the hitters,” Moseley told the Padres’ official

website. “These guys will start scoring 10 runs a game for me. I

look forward to them getting their swings and confidence back.”