Originally created 08/20/05

Hampton unravels against Padres



ATLANTA - Sappy, memory-tickling video presentations played all evening Friday at Turner Field to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Braves' 1995 World Series title.

Starting pitching, as many might remember, was the staple of that championship run.

But that facet of the game has been a downfall the past two nights, with Mike Hampton providing a hollow echo Friday to John Thomson's lackluster effort from the night before as the pair of starters attempt to bounce back from injuries.

Hampton lasted 3Q innings and gave up seven runs, the same number as Thomson allowed in 3w, and San Diego ran past Atlanta, 12-7, before a crowd of 35,071 fans.

"There shouldn't be rust," Braves manager Bobby Cox said of his struggling starters on the rebound. "Not now."

At 59-61 entering the game, 2-6 since Aug. 10, the Padres were likely to provide the Braves with an easy opportunity to end the longest homestand of the year on a winning note.

Instead, Atlanta gave up a season-high 20 hits to a team that was averaging 1.75 runs and hitting .202 with two homers in its past eight games.

The Braves' previous high for hits allowed was 17, in a 13-inning loss June 29 at Florida. The Padres tied their season high for hits, but that was in a 15-inning game early in the year at Arizona.

Atlanta (69-52) has now lost three of four to teams from the NL West, which still has no team above .500. Pittsburgh tagged Philadelphia, however, so the NL East lead remained 4 games for the Braves.

Regardless, it's cause for concern to Atlanta that the Padres came into Turner and did what they hadn't done for just about the entire week - hit.

San Diego had been held to six or fewer hits four of the past five games. Florida's Dontrelle Willis and Josh Beckett threw shutouts at the Pods the previous two nights. Yet they reached their hit total from those two games - 11 - in Hampton's outing alone.

His line, paired with Thomson's eight hits and seven runs Thursday, left the Braves somewhat deflated, first baseman Adam LaRoche said.

"I look at it like they're both rusty," he said. "There's no great time to go through this, but I think this is an OK time for it. I think they're just getting it out of the way."

San Diego had seven hits in the first three innings, and that was before a six-run, six-hit explosion in the fourth that gave the team a 9-3 lead.

Brian Giles, the older brother of Atlanta second baseman Marcus, led the team with a 4-for-5 night that included a walk.

Reach Travis Haney at travis.haney@morris.com.