The Padres erupted for six runs in the sixth inning against the Braves to erase a three-run deficit on their way to a blowout 12-5 series-clinching victory. Every Padres starter except pitcher Tim Stauffer recorded at least one hit. The 12 runs was one shy of the Padres' season-high single-game total.
Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami held the Padres scoreless for five innings before unraveling in the sixth. Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with a double and six hits later, the Padres had scored six times.
"I think we just put better swings on the ball," said Padres manager Bud Black. "I've talked about sustaining innings and not just getting a couple hits. The key to run production is sustaining innings and the whole lineup contributing."
Kevin Kouzmanoff added a two-run homer in the seventh to give the Padres some additional cushion. The Friars also scored a run in the eighth and three in the ninth off of the back end of the Braves' bullpen.
Before Wednesday's offensive outburst, the Padres had scored 10 runs total in their last six games. Six Padres recorded multiple hits, with Gonzalez and David Eckstein each finishing with three.
"We had gotten solid swings on Kawakami prior to that inning," Eckstein said. "He was fantastic against us in San Diego. We just stuck with it and were able to find some holes."
"I was throwing at a pace during the first and second innings," Kawakami said through his interpreter. "In the sixth inning, when I was facing the hitters for a third time, maybe I should have just thrown a ball to see if they would take it."
Stauffer settled down after a rough first inning. After allowing a Martin Prado single and a walk to Chipper Jones, Stauffer left an 0-2 pitch over the plate to Brian McCann. McCann launched the mistake into the right-field seats to give the Braves an early 3-0 lead.
"It wasn't a terrible pitch," Stauffer said. "It wasn't where I wanted it to be, but he put a good swing on it. I wanted it in the dirt."
The Braves' three-run inning came after the Padres loaded the bases with no outs in their half of the first but failed to score a run.
"What I liked about this game is that as crushing as that could be in the first inning, our guys kept their chins up," Black said. "Stauffer gritted his teeth and hung in there. I think the guys saw that a little bit and we had a big sixth inning."
However, Stauffer would silence the Braves' bats for the rest of the outing. He finished with three walks and two strikeouts in five innings
"Obviously, I would have liked to pitch more than five innings," Stauffer said. "But if you're going to come out, that's about as good a situation as you can leave in."
Black pinch-hit for Stauffer in the big sixth-inning rally, sending Luis Rodriguez to the plate in Stauffer's place. Rodriguez responded with an RBI single to drive in the fifth run of the inning.
Recent callup Adam Russell, who was acquired from the White Sox in the Jake Peavy trade, allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings of work. He also struck out two and surrendered three hits.
On Thursday, the Padres will go for their first three-game series sweep since May 22-24 against the Cubs. Regardless of what happens on Thursday, the Padres have done a good job at coming into Atlanta and playing spoiler to a team that still has postseason aspirations.
"It's tough on everybody," said Braves reliever Eric O'Flaherty, who surrendered two of the Padres' 12 runs. "There were some tough breaks [in the sixth]. I don't think the pressure or anything gets to anybody this time of year, especially against that team. If anything, we let up against them a little bit. Maybe we lost a little bit of focus."
The Padres' two wins may have inspired panic in Atlanta, but they also seem to affirm that San Diego is moving in the right direction. They have won four of their last six series and have a chance to play spoiler again against the Marlins this weekend.
"I don't know if our season has been disappointing," Eckstein said. "We knew the direction we were going. We were going with youth. I think it's a learning experience as opposed to a disappointment. I think coming in and playing a team in Wild Card contention and playing the way we've played is very good for us."
Adam Rosenberg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less