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.