ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves hope they’re seeing the start of another second-
half hot streak by Dan Uggla.
Uggla’s three-run homer in the third inning gave Atlanta the lead and Paul Maholm threw seven strong innings to lead the Braves to a 6-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.
The Braves remained 4½ games behind NL East-leading Washington, which beat San Francisco 6-4.
Uggla is hitting .215 but has homers in two consecutive games, giving him 15 for the season. He is hitting .267 with three homers and 13 RBI in August.
“I’m getting some hits, driving some runners in and scoring some runs,” he said. “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.”
This is the first time the All-Star second baseman has hit homers in back-to-back games this season.
Uggla was hitting .173 on July 4 last season before he launched a dramatic turnaround. His career-best 33-game hitting streak, the longest for the Braves in their Atlanta era, helped him to be selected NL Player of the Month for August. He finished with a career-best 36 homers and lifted his average to a still-modest .233.
“We saw it last year,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “This is a good time for him to get hot and drive in some runs.”
Jason Heyward had a two-run double in Atlanta’s three-run fourth inning. Martin Prado had three hits.
Edinson Volquez gave up six runs and seven hits and two walks in 3⅔ innings.
After a six-game stretch where he was 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA, Volquez (7-9) has allowed four or more runs in four consecutive starts. He has
not completed the fourth inning in his past three starts.
“It’s kind of frustrating because I’m used to going deep in games,” he said. “Now the last three starts have been kind of short. We’ll see what happens the next game.”
Maholm (11-7) gave up five hits and one run in seven innings in his first home win since his July 30 trade from the Cubs.
Maholm survived a fourth-inning jam when he walked Everth Cabrera to load the bases with one out. He then struck out Nick Hundley and Volquez to end the threat.
“Obviously, I’m not going to give into Cabrera when I have Hundley and the pitcher coming up,” Maholm said. “I try to keep the same mindset no matter what, not give in.”
San Diego took a 1-0 lead on Logan Forsythe’s third-inning homer, a fly ball that hit the net on the fair side of the left-field foul pole and barely cleared the wall.
Volquez, who leads the majors with 86 walks, walked Uggla to open the second. Juan Francisco followed with a double, sending Uggla to third, but the Braves could not score. Uggla was thrown out at the plate by first baseman Yonder Alonso on Brian McCann’s grounder. Paul Janish hit a popup and Maholm struck out.
Uggla’s three-run homer off Volquez was a line-drive shot that quickly reached the left-field seats.
“Wrong pitch,” Volquez said. “I threw a fastball up in the zone and he put a pretty good swing to it.”
The homer by Uggla saved the inning for the Braves after Prado was caught in a rundown between third base and home on Freddie Freeman’s grounder to Volquez.
“If he executes a couple pitches, different story. The two-out home run to Uggla was a back-breaker. And then the two-out double to Heyward was a back-breaker.”