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SD@ATL: Maholm strikes out seven, allows a single run

ATLANTA -- As Jason Heyward spent most of the past two months enjoying the most impressive stretch of his young career, Dan Uggla was enduring one of the most frustrating slumps he has ever experienced.

But both appear to be where they want to be as the Braves prepare for the season's final seven weeks.

Heyward drilled two key doubles and Uggla extended his recent surge with a three-run homer that gave Paul Maholm all the support he needed to lead the Braves to a 6-1 win over the Padres on Wednesday night at Turner Field.

"Danny is heating up," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That ball he hit today was gone in a heartbeat. He hit that ball hard."

Uggla's two-out, three-run homer in the third inning off Edinson Volquez did not take long to clear the left-field wall. The line shot provided the Braves a lead they would not relinquish, on the way to winning for the 16th time in their past 21 games.

Some of the Braves' recent success can be attributed to the consistency of the starting rotation, with the help of additions like Maholm, who has impressed in each of the three starts he has made since being acquired from the Cubs on July 30.

Maholm limited the Padres to one run and five hits over seven innings. He was not nearly as efficient as he was when he tossed a three-hit shutout against the Mets last Friday. But the only damage he incurred during this 107-pitch effort came courtesy of the home run by Logan Forsythe that bounced off the left-field foul pole in the third inning.

"He's really figured out how to pitch, he's really figured out what type of pitcher he is," Uggla said. "Not just this year, every year he's been in the league he's been getting better and better. He's a bulldog out there. He's going to challenge you and get you off balance."

It did not take the Braves long to erase that 1-0 deficit against the inconsistent Volquez. Heyward sparked the Braves offense in the bottom of the third with a double that moved Martin Prado to third.  After a Freddie Freeman comebacker retired Prado between third and home, Uggla worked the count full before drilling a 94-mph fastball over the left-field wall for a 3-1 lead.

"I guess it felt a little up, but that's what happens when you're on time," Uggla said. "When I'm on time, my bat's as quick as anybody's. I was able to get on top of one, finally. Man, it felt good."

Over the past week, Uggla has shown signs that he has moved past some of the troubles that haunted him, as he batted .121 with two home runs and a .477 OPS from June 6 through Aug. 5.

Uggla has notched two multi-hit performances, hit three home runs and totaled nine RBIs in his past eight games.

"This is a good time for him to get hot and drive in some runs," Gonzalez said.

Heyward highlighted a three-run fourth inning against Volquez with a double that scored Maholm and Martin Prado.

"It was good to give [Maholm] some run support early and then allow him to go out there and be comfortable," said Heyward, who has batted .298 with 13 home runs and a .536 slugging percentage in 61 games since June 5.

Maholm breezed through a seven-pitch first inning, then pitched around Carlos Quentin's leadoff double in the second.

The composed left-hander encountered more trouble in the fourth inning when he hit Quentin in the foot with a pitch and surrendered a one-out single to Cameron Maybin.

Channeling his boyhood idol Tom Glavine, Maholm did not panic. Instead, he walked Everth Cabrera to load the bases with one out. This set the stage for him to end the threat with consecutive strikeouts against Nick Hundley and Volquez.

"You've just got to know that you can continue to execute your pitches and do your job," Maholm said.

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