The Atlanta Braves know they’ll need a more consistent offense if they hope to make a run at an NL East title.
The Braves will be trying to enter the All-Star break on a high note Sunday when they wrap up a three-game series with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Atlanta (44-50) won for just the fourth time in 13 games on Saturday, beating the Padres (37-57) 4-1. Jeff Francoeur, sent down to Double-A Mississippi on July 4th and recalled three days later, hit a tiebreaking single in the sixth inning with the bases loaded.
“I’ve felt very relaxed these last four games I’ve been up here,” said Francoeur, who is batting a disappointing .234. “I’ve had a lot of fun. It’s a lot more fun when you do stuff like that. If I have a few more games like that, things will start to turn around.”
The Braves have scored 26 runs in their last four wins, but have managed one or none in each of their last five losses. Atlanta has scored at least four runs in all but five of its 44 wins this season.
In order to get their offense in gear, the Braves will have to get Chipper Jones going. Jones leads the majors with a .378 batting average, but it has dropped from .393 on July 1, when he returned after missing eight straight starts with a strained right quadriceps.
Jones went 3-for-4 on Saturday after going 1-for-14 in his previous four games. The Braves went 1-3 in that four-game span, scoring one total run in the three losses.
Jones is 15-for-43 (.349) with five doubles, three homers and eight walks all-time against Randy Wolf (6-8, 4.38 ERA), who starts the finale for the Padres.
Wolf snapped a four-start losing streak on Tuesday, allowing one run in seven innings of 10-1 win over Florida. The left-hander, who recently called himself “the worst pitcher in baseball,” gave up 20 runs in 17 1-3 innings during the losing streak.
“He seemed to click in the middle innings,” manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official team Web site. “He was throwing the ball with more confidence. He got his rhythms back.”
Wolf has struggled against the Braves, going 4-10 with 5.14 ERA in 24 career appearances, including 22 starts. He is 0-3 in his last eight starts against them since an 18-5 win in Atlanta on Sept. 9, 2003.
The Padres will enter the break in last place in the NL West. They have had problems on offense as well, scoring three or fewer runs in 13 of 18 games while scoring a major league-low 348 runs this season.
Jody Gerut drove in the lone run for San Diego on Saturday.
The Padres will try to bounce back against Jorge Campillo (3-4, 3.06), who gave up three runs in seven innings of Monday’s 3-0 loss at Dodger Stadium. The Braves, who managed just one hit in that defeat, have given the right-hander one or no runs of support in five of his last six starts, and he has dropped four of them.
“Our guy pitched a great game,” manager Bobby Cox told the Braves’ site. “We wanted him to go six or seven innings, and he gave us that.”
Campillo has no record and a 3.86 ERA in two career relief appearances against the Padres.