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ATL@SD: Uggla crushes a three-run homer in the ninth

SAN DIEGO -- While it proved successful, like most of his other starts this season, Jair Jurrjens would like to avoid experiencing this kind of game too many more times. Dan Uggla, however, can only hope the next three months will be filled with nights just like this one.

As Jurrjens was securing his National League-best 10th win while reaffirming his ability to escape potentially-damaging situations at PETCO Park Saturday night, Uggla was providing the Braves encouragement with a season-high four-RBI performance that helped them claim a 10-1 win over the Padres.

"Hitting is contagious," Uggla said. "When we see somebody hit a line drive, we're like, 'Oh man, I want to get up there and do the same thing.' That's just one of the things about baseball. You just have to be cocky and confident and put your best swing on good pitches."

The Braves can only hope this game proves to be contagious for Uggla, who capped his most productive game of the season with a three-run, ninth-inning homer. The veteran second baseman added an RBI single in a three-run eight and also drew walks in two of his first three plate appearances.

This was just the fourth multi-walk game of the season for Uggla, who entered the day ranking last in the NL in batting average (.175) and on-base percentage (.247). His ability to show enough patience to draw a couple free passes is a product of the confidence he has gained while working hard to regain proper timing with his swing.

"When you see him take pitches and his head is right there and his stride is down and he's not jumping, you feel good and know it's coming," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think he's been doing this for about seven or eight days. Little by little."

While this season's first half has been frustrating for Uggla, it has been refreshing for Jurrjens, who notched his 10th win just a few hours after the Yankees' CC Sabathia and Tigers' Justin Verlander became the first Major Leaguers to hit the mark.

After missing his first two starts of the season with a strained oblique muscle, Jurrjens has reached the 10-win through just 14 starts. The last Braves pitcher to notch 10 wins in 14 or fewer starts was Tom Glavine, who did so in his 14th start of the 2002 season.

Jurrjens has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 12 of his first 14 starts this year. This latest outing lowered his NL-low ERA to 2.07.

"Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," Jurrjens said. "The guys have been giving me a lot of run support and I've been able to maintain [leads] until we can get to the bullpen. After that, they score more runs. It makes it easy when you have offense on your side."

On the way to allowing just one run and three hits over six innings, Jurrjens kept the Padres hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. He was not harmed in any of the three innings in which he put two runners on base before recording his first out.

The only run Jurrjens surrendered came via a surprising third-inning leadoff homer by Alberto Gonzalez. The Padres shortstop's first-pitch blast to left field gave him his first home run in a span of 584 at-bats, dating back to April 16, 2009.

"He's a competitor," said Cameron Maybin, a former Minor League teammate of Jurrjens in the Tigers organization. "Ever since I've known him, he goes out and competes his butt off. He was good tonight, man. Made some big pitches."

Maybin's double-play groundout silenced the second-inning threat the Padres produced with a Ryan Ludwick leadoff single and Anthony Rizzo walk. Jurrjens issued two more of his four walks to open the bottom of the fifth. That threat ended with Will Venable popping out with runners at second and third base.

Jurrjens then proved magical again in the bottom of the sixth, which began with a Jason Bartlett single and Orlando Hudson walk. The 25-year-old retired the next three batters he faced to lower his batting average allowed with runners in scoring position to .164 (12-for-73).

"JJ is a gamer," Uggla said. "He is going to go out and battle. He did it again tonight. As a player, you're never really worried with him on the mound. Once it gets to be crunch time and there's runners in scoring position, he just gets that much tougher."

One night after recording just four hits and bidding adieu to a four-game winning streak, the Braves received many encouraging signs at the plate from the right guys. Jason Heyward doubled and scored in two of his first three plate appearances against Padres starter Dustin Moseley. This marked just the second time this year the 21-year-old right fielder recorded two extra-base hits in a game.

Nate McLouth, who has also struggled to find consistent success, enjoyed a two-hit game that began with a second-inning RBI double. The veteran outfielder added an eighth-inning RBI single.

"We're capable of doing that," Fredi Gonzalez said. "When you look at our offense, I know we haven't done it consistently. But we're capable of putting those kinds of numbers up." Comments