Braves-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

Visits to Petco Park haven't gone according to plan for the Atlanta Braves recently.

They'll try to avoid being swept there for the first time in eight years Wednesday when they conclude a seven-game road trip against the San Diego Padres.

The NL East-leading Braves (39-26) have dropped seven of 11 at San Diego over the past three seasons, losing five of six while batting .185 and averaging 2.2 runs.

They struggled at the plate again Tuesday, mustering six singles in a 3-2 loss to the Padres (31-34) after their four-run, ninth-inning rally fell short in a 7-6 defeat a day prior.

Atlanta is now on the cusp of being swept in a series at San Diego for the first time since May 16-18, 2005.

Freddie Freeman has been one of the main culprits in the Braves' lack of success at Petco. He's hitting .176 with one homer and four RBIs in 10 career visits.

Although Freeman is 1 for 6 in this series, he's compiled a .355 average with 18 RBIs in 19 overall contests.

Justin Upton, meanwhile, is hitting .190 with one RBI in 21 games since May 17, when he connected for his 14th homer and drove in five runs in an 8-5 home victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The left fielder has three hits in the past two games as he tries to shake that slump. He gets another chance in the finale against scheduled starter Edinson Volquez, who has seen Upton go 7 for 12 with four doubles in their matchups.

Atlanta gives the ball to Paul Maholm (7-4, 3.46), who is 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA in his last five starts. The veteran left-hander turned in one of his best performances of that stretch Friday, yielding one run in 7 1-3 innings of a 2-1 road defeat in 10 to the Dodgers.

Maholm, however, is 1-3 with a 6.82 ERA in his past six road outings.

He's 1-5 with a 4.02 ERA in seven career starts against the Padres, and he was the hard-luck loser in a 3-0 defeat in his lone visit to San Diego on Aug. 27. His only mistake in 6 2-3 innings was a two-run homer by backup catcher Yasmani Grandal in the second.

Grandal might be back behind the plate since he's 4 for 11 (.364) with a homer and five RBIs in three meetings with Atlanta - all at home. That's far better than Nick Hundley's .200 average in 17 career games against the Braves, though he had an RBI double Tuesday.

Volquez (4-5, 6.33) aims to bounce back from one of the worst starts of his nine-year career and lead the Padres to their sixth win in eight games.

The right-hander was roughed up for career highs of nine runs and 11 hits in 2 1-3 innings, but escaped without a decision in Friday's 10-9 loss at Colorado.

"It was tough. That's the first time that's happened to me in my whole career," Volquez said. "I've got to be able to make adjustments, throw quality pitches."

A return home may not help since Volquez is 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in his last three games there.

He's also 1-3 with a 4.56 ERA in five starts versus Atlanta, getting tagged for six runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 6-1 road loss Aug. 15.

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