San Diego (3-6) at Atlanta (5-6)

Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Sat Apr 15, 2006
  • TV: Ch4, SPSO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

John Smoltz is familiar with starting a season slowly.

The hard-throwing right-hander looks to rebound from two difficult outings when the Atlanta Braves host the San Diego Padres on Saturday in the second game of a three-game series.

The Braves took the first meeting with the Padres 5-4 on Friday, only their second win in six games.

The 38-year-old Smoltz hopes to build on the victory and help Atlanta (5-6) to consecutive wins for the first time this season.

Smoltz is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA after two starts, allowing batters a .326 average. He had an inning where he gave up four runs in each outing.

In his second start on Sunday, the four runs came in the second inning of a 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants. He did not factor in the decision after closer Chris Reitsma allowed two ninth-innings runs.

“I couldn’t get my feel in the second inning,” Smoltz said. “I felt I lost it and then I got it back. It’s related to the cold weather, and that’s all we’ve had out here.”

Smoltz has started slowly before. He lost his first three starts in 2005 before finishing tied for the team lead with 14 wins.

He has not earned a win against the Padres since Aug. 21, 1998, but has only started three games against them since then. He made nine consecutive appearances against the Padres as a closer from 2001-2004, earning eight saves.

Right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who went 3-for-4 on Friday with a solo home run, is trying to turn around his own slow start.

The 22-year-old Francoeur is on a tear, going 7-for-9, including three homers to improve his batting average to .200. He had been hitting .081 through the first nine games.

“It’s good to be back over the Mendoza Line, or at least right at it,” Francoeur said. “Hopefully I can keep going from here.”

The Padres (3-6) are off to their worst start since 1994, when they went 1-8 in their first nine contests and finished 47-70.

San Diego sends its ace Jake Peavy to the mound. The right-hander will try to bounce back from a 10-4 defeat to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, where he suffered the loss by allowing eight runs and 11 hits in four innings.

“I couldn’t make a pitch and we couldn’t make a play,” said Peavy, who allowed six runs in the fifth, including a two-run triple. “I let my focus and concentration get away from me. I was upset with the triple.”

The 23-year-old Peavy won his last outing against the Braves on Aug. 17, 2004, when he allowed one run in seven innings. He is 1-1 with a 4.42 ERA in three career starts against Atlanta.

The Padres are struggling at the plate, hitting .247 as a team. Shortstop Khalil Green leads San Diego with four homers and 10 RBIs, but has not recorded either in the last three games.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Peavy SF vs. J. Smoltz StL
11-14 Record 16-9
4.09 ERA 3.49
215 K 211
62 BB 55
1.23 WHIP 1.19