A strong finish to their latest homestand has the Atlanta Braves feeling optimistic. A weekend in San Diego could give them even more confidence.
The Braves look to continue their recent road success against the Padres on Friday night with a fifth consecutive victory overall.
It seems to be all or nothing of late for Atlanta, which won six straight June 7-12, then lost five of six before winning four in a row to conclude a 5-4 homestand.
With key players like Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth healthy again, the Braves (43-33) are feeling good about their chances to stay hot.
"We're getting closer," Brandon Beachy told the Braves' official website after he pitched six strong innings in Wednesday's 5-1 win over Toronto. "Everyone can feel that. Hopefully things will start falling into place, and we get a little snowball effect and things take off for us."
The Braves have a chance to do that in San Diego, where they have won 15 of 21 since last losing a series in 2005. Atlanta took two of three at Petco Park in April.
"It's going to be exciting to watch us play over the next stretch," reliever Jonny Venters said. "I think it's going to be awesome."
Awesome could be used to describe an Atlanta pitching staff that has an ERA of 1.00 and struck out 40 over the last four games. The Braves rank among the best in the majors with a 3.03 ERA.
Derek Lowe (3-5, 4.10) hopes to continue that success Friday while trying for his first win in nine starts.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.96 ERA since beating Philadelphia on May 6, and he's given up nine runs in 10 1-3 innings of his last two.
Lowe, however, is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last three starts at Petco. He yielded two runs and struck out eight in six innings of a 5-3, 13-inning loss there April 25.
Battery mate Brian McCann, a lifetime .383 hitter with four home runs and 21 RBIs at spacious Petco Park, homered for the fourth time in his last five games Wednesday. He's hit .400 (8 for 20) during his last six.
The five-time All-Star is 2 for 6 with a homer against scheduled San Diego starter Tim Stauffer (2-5, 3.13), who has allowed one run in 22 innings while going 1-1 over his last three outings.
That lone run came via the homer as Stauffer lasted seven innings in a 1-0 loss at Minnesota on Saturday. His teammates have not scored in his last two outings.
"He's got such quality stuff that if he can get early outs, he'll go deep into the game," catcher Nick Hundley told the Padres' official website.
San Diego (32-44) scored five runs in each game and won the final two at Boston to snap a six-game skid. The Padres have not won three straight since June 3-5.
"It's good for our psyche," manager Bud Black said. "Our guys should feel good about it."
Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson is batting .467 (7 for 15) in four games since coming off the disabled list with a strained groin. He's hit .382 during a 10-game hitting streak versus Atlanta and .325 lifetime versus Lowe.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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