Originally created 05/06/04

Wells handles Braves offense



ATLANTA - The thought was that at this stage of his career, David Wells had lost his capacity to surprise.

So what's going on here?

The 40-year-old left-hander pitched into the eighth inning Wednesday night and San Diego's bullpen recorded the last six outs as the Padres evened the series with a 2-0 win over the Braves before a crowd of 21,444 fans at Turner Field.

Hired by the Padres this winter to school their young staff in the art of pitching, Wells offered a lesson in commanding a fastball and changing speeds. He didn't overpower Atlanta's lineup, his fastball topped out at 89 miles-per-hour, but spotted his heater on both sides of the plate and used a slow curve to keep the Braves off-balance.

Wells did his best work with runners on base, inducing Jesse Garcia to roll into a fielder's choice with two men on in the fifth, then struck out Mark DeRosa and Andruw Jones to strand runners on first and third the next inning.

The Braves managed just five singles and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The Padres added an extra run in the ninth off relievers Will Cunnane and C.J. Nitkowski. Mark Loretta's bases-loaded sacrifice fly gave closer Trevor Hoffman some breathing room.

Jaret Wright, who beat the Giants 12-3 on April 27 in his last start, took another step out of the shadows of doubt about his future as a starter, limiting the Padres to one run on seven hits and one walk in six innings.

Wright cruised through the first three innings, then ducked trouble in the fourth, when the Padres loaded the bases with two outs.

The 28-year-old right-hander fanned shortstop Khalil Greene, the National League's Rookie of the Month, then surrendered what eventually turned out to be the winning run the next inning on Brian Giles' RBI single.

Unfazed, Wright whiffed Padres cleanup hitter Phil Nevin and Terrence Long to leave runners on first and second.

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.