Braves' Hale dazzles, but Padres win

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- David Hale made Atlanta Braves history in his major league debut, but it didn't pay off in a victory for either the right-hander or his team.

Chase Headley's homer tied the game in the eighth inning, and Logan Forsythe followed by driving in the lead run with a pinch single as the San Diego Padres rallied against the Braves' bullpen for a 4-3 victory Friday night.

Hale, a 25-year-old native of suburban Atlanta making a spot start, set a Braves debut record with nine strikeouts, allowing just four hits and a walk over five scoreless innings.

"He was outstanding," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We couldn't ask for anything more. It couldn't have been scripted better."

Well, not exactly.

The usually reliable Atlanta bullpen couldn't protect a 3-0 lead and the Braves fell to 0-4 against San Diego this season as their magic number for winning the National League East remained at six.

The second-place Washington Nationals, who won their seventh consecutive game Friday, trail the Braves by 10 games.

"What a great at-bat by Logan, not to mention that's against a really good bullpen and a really good team," Headley said. "A very good team win for us."

Headley jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Jordan Walden leading off the eighth and smashed his 11th homer of the season over the fence in right field. Tommy Medica walked, moved up on a wild pitch and scored when Forsythe's liner off Scott Downs fell just in front of center fielder Jordan Schafer with two outs.

"That was a nice swing on a pretty good pitch down and away," Padres manager Bud Black said.

Forsythe has been battling the return of the plantar fasciitis in his right foot that kept him out the first two months of the season.

"Just going through that stuff and being able to do little things like that to help us win, it feels good. It feels real good," Forsythe said. "It's not an injury where you can go out every day and perform like you want to."

The Padres bullpen held the Braves hitless for three innings. Nick Vincent (5-3) struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh to earn the win. Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 30th save.

The Padres scored twice in the seventh inning on four hits as the Braves went through three relievers. A pinch single by Jesus Guzman drove in the first run, and Chris Denorfia knocked in the second with a sacrifice fly.

San Diego starter Ian Kennedy allowed homers to Justin Upton and Brian McCann in the fourth inning but was strong otherwise. He gave up five hits and three runs in six innings, striking out five and walking two.

Upton picked on a first-pitch changeup for his 25th homer leading off the inning, and McCann hit his 20th on 0-2 fastball after a single by Freddie Freeman.

Hale fanned the side around two singles in the first inning, then ended the third and fourth innings on strikeouts with a runner in scoring position. He never had more than six strikeouts in a game this season for Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 games.

The third-round draft choice in 2009 out of Princeton University got the start in place of veteran left-hander Paul Maholm, who experienced a tender elbow in his past two games. But an MRI showed no structural damage, and Maholm, 10-10 with a 4.35 ERA, is penciled in to return to the rotation next Friday against the Cubs in Chicago.

Hale grew up in Marietta, Ga., rooting for the Braves and had more than 100 family members and friends at the game, plus the Princeton baseball team.

"It was a dream come true, it really was," said Hale, who hadn't pitched in 11 days. "I had so much adrenaline. Adrenaline helps, I guess."

The Padres were 0-for-7 with runners on against Hale, whose only perfect inning was the second. He walked one to go with his nine strikeouts, throwing 56 of his 87 pitches for strikes.

"I obviously wish we could have got a win there and shrunk the magic number, but I'm still glad to have a good first one under my belt," Hale said.

"His stuff was electric," Gonzalez said. "He had the two-seamer, his sinker going. The bottom was falling out of it."

The Padres were glad to get Hale out of the game.

"I thought his fastball was really good," Headley said. "He threw some that had good sink and run, and some that stayed up. It was very impressive to have him come up in that situation and pitch the way that he did."

NOTES: Braves OF Jason Heyward took batting practice for the first time since he suffered a broken jaw from being hit in the face by a pitch from Mets LHP Jon Niese in New York on July 21. Heyward hopes to be back in the lineup before the end of the regular season. ... The Padres won two one-run games and a two-run contest in sweeping the Braves in San Diego on June 10-12. ... Braves 2B Dan Uggla, in a 6-for-76 slump, didn't start for the fourth time in five games. He is 4-for-35 since coming back from laser eye surgery and hitless in his past 13 at-bats. ... RHP Kris Medlen (13-12, 3.46 ERA) will pitch for the Braves on Saturday night against Padres rookie LHP Robbie Erlin (2-2, 5.56). Medlen is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his past three starts.
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