ATLANTA (AP) – The Atlanta Braves scored five runs in the eighth inning, helped by two San Diego errors, and rallied to beat the Padres 6-2 Sunday night to salvage a win in the three-game series.

The Padres took a 2-1 lead on pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney’s two-run single off John Smoltz in the seventh inning, but the San Diego bullpen, hurt by the errors, couldn’t hold the lead in the eighth.

Marcus Giles led off the eighth with a single off reliever Akinori Otsuka (1-5) and moved to third on Chipper Jones’ double to center. Damian Jackson then bobbled Andruw Jones’ grounder for an error, allowing Giles to score to tie the game as Jones beat the late throw at first.

Both runners advanced on Adam LaRoche’s deep fly to left field. Otsuka issued an intentional walk to Jeff Francoeur to load the bases – giving the rookie his first walk after 127 at-bats. Ryan Langerhans followed with a grounder to Sweeney at first – ruled an infield hit that drove in Chipper Jones. Sweeney threw wildly to home, allowing Andruw Jones to follow Chipper Jones across the plate.

Brian McCann drove in Francoeur with a sacrifice fly to center, and pinch-hitter Julio Franco drove in Langerhans with a single to right.

Jorge Sosa (8-2) earned the win in relief.

With the comeback, the Braves snapped a three-game losing streak and protected their 31/2-game lead over second-place Philadelphia in the NL East.

The Padres (61-62) fell back below .500 but still lead the NL West by four games.

According to Braves records, the Padres could have become the first National League team to sweep a season series from the Braves since they moved to Atlanta in 1966. The Padres swept three games from the Braves in San Diego from May 16-18 before taking the first two games of this weekend’s series.

The Braves now play the Padres only six times each year. Until the schedule format changed recently, the teams met 18 times each season.

Smoltz drove in Brian McCann with a fifth-inning triple to give the Braves a 1-0 lead, but he lost the lead in the seventh.

Xavier Nady led off with a double. Jackson walked, and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by David Ross. Sweeney, hitting for pitcher Brian Lawrence, drove in both runners with a single to center.

Smoltz gave up eight hits and two runs in seven innings. He walked two and struck out five.

Smoltz has made 12 starts after Braves losses. He is 8-1 and the team is 10-2 in those games.

Lawrence gave up five hits and one run in six innings. He walked three and struck out four and escaped a fourth-inning bases-loaded jam without allowing a run.

The Braves did not have a hit off Lawrence until the fourth inning, when they loaded the bases with no outs on a leadoff double by Rafael Furcal, a bunt single by Marcus Giles and a walk to Chipper Jones. Lawrence struck out Andruw Jones and then ended the inning with a double-play grounder to short from LaRoche.

Notes: The triple for Smoltz was the second of his career. His first triple came on April 6, 1989, at Houston. The 1989 season was his first full season in the majors. … The Braves finished their longest homestand of the season with a 5-7 record. … The Padres completed a 4-2 road trip.

AP-ES-08-21-05 2321EDT


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