Tyson Ross' second summer in San Diego included a particularly pleasant July.
He'll try to carry over the success to August on Sunday and help the Padres complete a three-game sweep of the reeling Atlanta Braves.Another victory would give San Diego a seven-game home winning streak over the Braves, its longest ever.Ross (10-10, 2.60 ERA) has won three straight starts for the first time in his career. The right-hander has allowed two runs and 13 hits with 24 strikeouts over 19 innings in that time, but he's been consistently impressive for even longer. In July, Ross went 4-2 with a major league-high 48 strikeouts and a 1.10 ERA -- second-best in the NL behind Clayton Kershaw.Overall, Ross has thrown eight consecutive games of six or more innings while allowing two or fewer runs. It's the second-longest such streak in the majors to Seattle's Felix Hernandez, who has done it in 14 straight.Still, there is cause for control concern after a five-walk effort in six innings of Tuesday's 3-1 win over St. Louis. He's issued nine over his last three starts."He's been so good, especially this month, so when something like this happens with the five walks, it's a little bit exasperating," manager Bud Black told MLB's official website. "But he did right the ship."Ross has a 1.86 ERA at Petco Park in his second season with the Padres, allowing one run in his last 25 innings there.He hasn't faced Atlanta, but B.J. Upton is 3 for 7 with two doubles against him.The Braves counter with Aaron Harang, who has been quite sharp lately as well.Harang (9-6, 3.43) is 4-0 with a 2.68 ERA over his past seven starts, though Atlanta has lost the last three. His latest start was his worst of the bunch as he allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings of an 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.The former Padre's recent work against San Diego has also been impressive. He's compiled a 3-0 record and 1.35 ERA over the last five matchups, most recently pitching a four-hit shutout May 27, 2013, while with Seattle.He's held Will Venable (3 for 20), Jeff Francoeur (3 for 16), Seth Smith (2 for 12) and Alexi Amarista (1 for 10) all in check.Venable, however, came through for the Padres (50-60) in the 12th inning Saturday, driving in Yangervis Solarte for a 3-2 win to secure a series victory.Venable has seven RBIs over the last four games while batting .500, matching Tommy Medica's average in his past eight after going 2 for 4 on Saturday.It's hard to find any hot bats for the Braves (58-53), who have scored 12 runs over the last six games and have lost five straight to open an eight-game road trip. They've dropped 2 1/2 games back of Washington for the NL East lead.Jason Heyward returned after missing four games with a strained back. He went 2 for 5 and is batting .377 over 17 games since July 8, leaving his manager rather grateful."It's been four days, but it seems like it's been a month," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.Freddie Freeman went 3 for 5 to break from a 3-for-22 slump, but Evan Gattis is in a 2-for-17 funk and Andrelton Simmons is batting .148 since the All-Star break.San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game with fluid in his right knee.
Justin Upton has a .553 SLG percentage in at-bats that end with pitches in the lower third of the strike zone and below, second highest percent among qualifiers. Tyson Ross has thrown the third most pitches to end an at-bat (1,250) in the lower third of the strike zone and below among qualified starters.