Alexis Rhone Fancher 9 p.m., March 4
As Padres manager Buddy Black often points out, one can spin some events two ways. On the one hand, Braves starter Kris Medlen pitched one heck of a ball game, giving up only five hits while striking out six en route to a 6-0 complete-game shutout of the San Diego Padres on Thursday in Atlanta.
On the other hand, what has happened to the Padres bats lately? In their last three games, the Padres have only scored one total run in the three straight losses. And the pitching hasn’t been stellar either, giving up six runs in each of the three games.
Spin it either way, and the Padres still wind up 3-4 on the road trip. And Kris Medlen improved to 4-1 on the season for Atlanta in mastering the Padres offense.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Braves got the only lead they would need in the entire game. Michael Bourn opened the frame with a double, and after Martin Prado lined out and Jason Heyward went down on strikes, Chipper Jones hit his 11th home run of the season and staked Atlanta to a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the second, the Padres had a runner in scoring position with only one out, but Cameron Maybin struck out and John Baker grounded out, stranding Will Venable at second base. There wouldn’t be many more ideal scoring opportunities for the Padres.
In fact, the best opportunity for the Padres to score came in the top of the third inning. Jason Marquis opened the frame with a double, and took third base when Logan Forsythe grounded out.
Everth Cabrera hit back to the pitcher with Marquis headed home, where Marquis was then thrown out. Cabrera then stole second base with two outs, his 20th in as many attempts this season, but Chase Headley struck out to end the threat.
Padres starter Jason Marquis held the two-run deficit until the fifth inning, when the Braves got busy. With two outs, Jason Heyward and Chipper Jones hit back-to-back solo home runs. Freddie Freeman walked and then Dan Uggla hit a double, putting Freeman at third base, still with two outs.
After issuing an intentional walk to Brian McCann to load the bases, Brad Boxberger replaced Marquis. Paul Janish then singled, plating Freeman and Uggla, and that was all the scoring in the game; 6-0 Braves over the Padres after five innings.
Other than a couple of two-out singles, the Padres never seriously threatened Medlen. Other than the hit given up by Brad Boxberger that allowed two runs to score (both charged to Jason Marquis), the Padres relievers were entirely effective, with Boxberger, Tom Layne, and Cory Burns combining for three innings of shut-out ball.
That’s either finding a silver lining or putting a different spin on the game, however one wishes to look at it.
Pitcher Tom Layne again retired the side in order in relief on Thursday, striking out two of the three batters he faced. On Wednesday, Layne made his major league debut, striking out the side.
On Friday, the Padres are back in San Diego to take on the San Francisco Giants. The Giants will be without their outfielder and 2012 All-Star game MPV Melky Cabrera, who is now serving a 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s substance abuse policy. The Giants will send Matt Cain (11-5, 2.99) to the mound to face Ross Ohlendorf (4-3, 6.41) for the Padres. Game time is 7:05 PM PDST, and fireworks will follow the game. Radio XX 1090 AM has the sound, Fox Sports San Diego has the video.