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Braves-Padres Preview

SAN DIEGO -- Going into the ninth inning Tuesday night, a negative stat cried out against the Padres.

San Diego was 1-31 when trailing after eight innings.

The Padres put a dent in that deficiency when they scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to overcome a 3-2 deficit and defeat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 at Petco Park.

Now, San Diego must tackle another problem: a 1-18 record in series finales.

The Padres aim to improve in that category when they go for a three-game sweep of the Braves on Wednesday afternoon. San Diego has not swept a series all season.

"I don't really know what to say about that," Padres manager Andy Green said recently of his club's record in the final game of series. "The approach is the same. I don't think there's any reason to explain it."

Maybe so, but it is there, 1-18. Even Atlanta interim manager Brian Snitker was taken a bit aback when the Padres' record in series finales was mentioned Tuesday.

"Really," Snitker said ... and he moved on.

So Wednesday afternoon offers both opportunity as well as a chance of further embarrassment for the Padres as they conclude a series that matches the last-place teams in the National League's East and West divisions.

"We need to get a couple of sweeps to get this thing rolling," Padres center fielder Jon Jay said.

The Braves' struggles -- Atlanta is riding a six-game losing streak -- could aid the Padres' cause, as could the San Diego starting pitcher.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz owns a 5-5 record, but his 2.22 ERA ranks eighth in the National League. Pomeranz leads the NL with a .163 opponents' batting average and ranks sixth with a rate of 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

Pomeranz, 27, is the latest starting pitcher to develop under the tutelage of Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley. During his first season in San Diego, Pomeranz hasn't allowed a run in five of his 11 starts.

It won't be easy for the Padres, though. Starting Wednesday for the Braves will be right-hander Julio Teheran, who has a 1-6 record despite a 2.92 ERA.

The 25-year-old Colombian is the ace of the Atlanta staff. The only question is, for how long? The Braves are clearly rebuilding for the future, and trading Teheran could bring a mother lode of prospects.

Teheran has faced the Padres five times in his career and is 1-2 with a 4.55 ERA in those starts.

However, Teheran also catches the Padres right when the offense that lagged at or near the bottom of most major league statistical categories after the first two months of the season is coming alive.

The top four hitters in the Padres' batting order -- Jay, Will Myers, Matt Kemp and Yangervis Solarte -- are 48-for-119 (.403) with nine doubles, five homers, 25 RBIs and 30 runs over the first seven games in June. San Diego is 5-2 in that span.

San Diego shortstop Alexei Ramirez is riding a 10-game hitting streak, while catcher Derek Norris, who hit a game-tying homer in the ninth inning Tuesday, is 10-for-27 (.370) in his past seven starts.

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