Braves-Padres Preview


Runs have been scarce with the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres splitting their two games at Petco Park.

Considering how well Tommy Hanson has pitched against the Padres and how good Eric Stults has looked lately, the same could be true in Wednesday's finale.

Atlanta (74-56) moved 2 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis for the NL's top wild-card spot with Tuesday's 2-0 win, snapping San Diego's season-best eight-game winning streak. The Braves, who lost 3-0 Monday, have won three of four since beginning their 10-game trip 1-4.

After being held to four hits in the opener at Petco, Atlanta got on the scoreboard in the first inning Tuesday on Chipper Jones' RBI double. Four innings later, Dan Uggla homered for his 1,000th career hit.

That was more support than Kris Medlen needed, as he limited the Padres to five singles over eight frames to extend his scoreless streak to 28 1-3 innings.

"We're winning games and that's all that really matters," Medlen said.

In order to avoid a sub-.500 road trip, the Braves hope Hanson (12-6, 4.40 ERA) can bounce back from a shaky showing by facing one of his favorite opponents.

After yielding three runs in 6 2-3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first start off the disabled list Aug. 17, the right-hander allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 5-2 loss at San Francisco on Thursday.

Facing San Diego (60-71) could help the native of Southern California regain his composure. Hanson is 4-0 with a 2.01 ERA in five career starts against the Padres, and has a 1.42 ERA in winning his three career starts at Petco.

Despite his success, Chase Headley has given him problems, going 4 for 10 with a triple and double.

Headley, the NL leader with 14 homers since the All-Star break, is 1 for 7 with a walk in the first two games of the series.

Atlanta's Martin Prado has accounted for three of his team's 11 hits in the first two, and is 4 for 8 with a triple lifetime against Stults (4-2, 2.68), who is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four starts this month. In Atlanta on Aug. 13, Stults gave up a run and five hits without a walk in a season-best 7 2-3 innings of a 4-1 win.

The left-hander was just as dominant in Arizona on Friday, when he allowed three hits and a walk in seven innings of a 5-0 victory. He also singled in two runs in the second inning and doubled home another in the fourth.

"In Eric's case, it's about command of the ball," manager Bud Black told the Padres' official website. "When he's on, he's hitting spots. He changes speeds, but you've got to have location, and that's what we've seen him do. When he intends to throw the ball down, he's gotta throw the ball down. When he intends to elevate it, he's got to elevate it. And he's doing those things.

"With Stultsy, it's not so much the life on his pitches, it's about his command. His stuff is pretty consistent from start to start."

In order to get outs, it has to be. Stults strikes out just 4.10 batters per nine innings, among the fewest in the majors.

What to Read Next