SAN DIEGO -- Just three weeks before the playoffs start and the Atlanta Braves have more to worry about than the Florida Marlins.
How about an offense that goes clunk in the night?
The state of Atlanta's hitting was measured Friday night by Padres right-hander Andy Ashby, who came within three outs of pitching the first no-hitter in San Diego history in a 6-2 victory over the Braves in front of 21,492 fans at Qualcomm Stadium.
Ashby, who finished with a two-hitter, was far from perfect, issuing three walks, but he received some excellent defense and got stronger as the game progressed. He allowed only two men to reach second base and struck out seven.
Ashby's gem was broken up by Kenny Lofton, who led off the ninth inning by hitting a 3-2 pitch into right field for a single. Fred McGriff spoiled Ashby's shutout with a two-out, two-run homer, his 21st.
Meanwhile, up the road in Los Angeles, the Dodgers defeated the Marlins 7-4 Friday night to keep the Braves' division lead at three games.
Ashby (8-10) was an unlikely candidate to no-hit the Braves. He had lost two of three career decisions to them with a 5.72 ERA and the league was hitting a robust .282 against him this season.
Ashby was good, but his defense was better. Padres infielders took away four hits from the Braves with superb plays, two by shortstop Craig Shipley. He leaped and robbed Javier Lopez of an RBI hit in the second inning, turning his line drive into a double play, then took away another hit from Lopez in the fifth by diving and gloving his one-hop smash.
Braves starter Tom Glavine wasn't at his best, but he hung on into the seventh inning before three singles, the last a two-out hit by Shipley, made it 4-0 and ushered him from the game. The left-hander was charged with 11 hits and six runs, just the seventh time in 29 starts this season he has allowed more than three earned runs.
Reliever Brad Clontz arrived in the seventh and allowed a two-run single to pinch hitter Wally Joyner, both runs charged to Glavine.
Glavine (12-7) struggled through the first inning, making 26 pitches and yielding Ken Caminiti's two-out RBI single. He left the bases loaded when shortstop Jeff Blauser made an outstanding stop of Chris Jones' hard grounder and turned it into an inning-ending fielder's choice.
Glavine made another mistake to Caminiti in the third, leaving a fastball out over the plate and the Padres' third baseman drilled his 22nd home run over the right-center field wall.
San Diego pushed its lead to 3-0 when Carlos Hernandez launched another Glavine fastball over the 370-foot sign in left-center field in the fourth, just his third homer in 105 at-bats this season. For Glavine, it was the 18th homer he's allowed this year, his most since also yielding 18 in 1990.
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