Padres-Braves Preview


It may be a case of deja vu all over again for Dan Uggla, and the Atlanta Braves are quite fine with it.

Showing signs of a second-half surge similar to last season, Uggla looks to help the Braves wrap up a four-game series with the San Diego Padres on Thursday night with three consecutive victories.

While Uggla hit a career-high 36 homers in 2011, it took an incredible run after the All-Star break - highlighted by a 33-game hitting streak - just to finish with a .233 average. This year, he endured a midseason slump that dropped his average as low as .206 on Aug. 5, but has enjoyed a modest bounce-back of late as the Braves (68-49) continue their playoff hunt.

Uggla hit a three-run homer in Wednesday's 6-1 victory, his second home run in as many games. He is 9 for 27 with three homers and nine RBIs in his last eight contests, raising his average to .215 and more importantly, helping keep Atlanta atop the wild-card standings and 4 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Washington.

"I'm getting some hits, driving some runners in and scoring some runs,'' said Uggla, who has 15 homers overall. "That's when you know you're getting back on track when you're creating some run production. That's the only thing I really care about, scoring runs and driving in runs.''

Uggla is 3 for 13 with a solo homer against Padres scheduled starter Jason Marquis (6-6, 3.66 ERA), but the former Brave has been pitching well of late. The right-hander is seeking his sixth win in seven starts after carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a 5-0 victory at Pittsburgh on Saturday, settling for a two-hit shutout.

"He was just pounding the strike zone with his sinker,'' San Diego third baseman Chase Headley said. "It was fun to watch.''

Marquis is 3-4 with a 7.27 ERA in eight lifetime starts against Atlanta, where he started his career in 2000, and has won three consecutive starts at Turner Field dating back to 2008.

Kris Medlen (3-1, 2.28) will try to keep the Padres (52-67) in check and add to his solid work since joining the Atlanta rotation at the end of July. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA in three starts, gradually ramping up his pitch count while holding the opposition to one run in each of those outings.

Medlen threw 88 pitches over 6 1-3 innings Saturday, striking out seven in a 9-3 victory over the New York Mets.

"I just take the ball and run with it,'' Medlen said. "I love competing. I love the chess match of starting. Relieving, if you don't have your pitches that day, you're going to get crushed. So it's two different mindsets and I like this one.''

San Diego has been held to one total run in its two losses in this series, going 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position in those defeats. While catcher Nick Hundley is mired in an 0-for-18 slump over his last five games, he has two doubles in as many at-bats versus Medlen.

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