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HOU@ATL: Hudson earns his 100th win as a Brave

Over the last couple seasons, the Padres have gotten used to playing spoiler in August and September as their postseason hopes have drifted away early. But this year in particular, the club appears to be embracing the role rather well, as the team has surged this month.

Winners of eight of their past 10 games, the Padres will look to clinch a series split against the National League Wild Card-leading Braves on Tuesday in the second game of their four-game set.

Toeing the rubber for San Diego will be southpaw Clayton Richard. The 28-year-old is set to make his 25th start of the season and, like his club, is riding a hot streak into the outing.

Richard has not allowed a run in his last 12 innings, having tossed a shutout in his last start against the Cubs on Wednesday, the second shutout of his career.

Padres manager Bud Black made note of the fact that Richard -- who is known as a ground-ball pitcher -- actually worked well at the top of the strike zone in the start, a risky venture for any pitcher given the fine line between getting harmless fly balls and serving up gopher balls.

"It's not something we wanted to do," Richard said after the game. "Sometimes, that's just a mistake, or it's a guy out front on a changeup."

Hoping to put an end to the Padres' run for the Braves will be veteran righty Tim Hudson. Even though San Diego still is near the bottom of the standings, Hudson knows how dangerous a hot team can be, no matter what its record is.

"They're playing some of their best baseball of the year right now," Hudson said. "Just because their record's not very good, doesn't mean you can't play some good baseball at times. We're catching them at a time where they're feeling pretty good about themselves. We just need to go out there and play as well as we've been playing and win some ballgames."

Hudson is coming off a poor showing in his last start, surrendering six earned runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Phillies.

Braves: Simmons hopes to begin baseball activities
• Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons was scheduled to meet with Dr. Gary Lourie on Monday at Turner Field.

Simmons has been on the 15-day disabled list since breaking his right pinkie finger July 8 in the Braves' 4-3 victory in Philadelphia on the final day before the All-Star break. He has begun therapy and is hopeful he will soon be cleared to begin baseball activities.

Simmons said his hand feels fine.

"I can pretty much do everything with it," Simmons said. "It's still a bit sore. I have to stretch it out a bit still, but it feels great."

Padres: Grandal getting closer to return
• Padres rookie catcher Yasmani Grandal took early batting practice and then another round with the team before the Padres faced the Braves at Turner Field on Monday in what is being viewed as a precursor to a Minor League rehabilitation assignment later this week.

"We're closing in on it," said Black.

Grandal suffered a strained right oblique muscle while taking a swing in a game in Cincinnati on July 30.

Black said that Grandal will take batting practice again on Tuesday and throw to the bases before the game and then will likely advance to a rehab stint with Class A Lake Elsinore, as long as his oblique obliges.

"Hopefully, I'll get a couple of starts in the Minors and then be ready for the Giants series," Grandal said. "But, it's still something we don't want to rush."

Worth noting
• The Padres have won each of their last three series and have posted a 9-4-1 record in their last 14 series this season.

• The Braves' loss on Sunday snapped a streak in which the club had won 46 consecutive games when scoring five or more runs.

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