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Braves seek to get on track against Padres

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Braves try to get themselves right on Friday when they begin a four-game series with the San Diego Padres at Turner Field.

Atlanta was a game ahead of the Washington Nationals after play ended last Friday. However, the Braves head into this weekend's series trailing the Nationals by 1 1/2 games thanks to losses in four of their last six games.

Atlanta seemed headed toward a win on Thursday, but normally-reliable closer Craig Kimbrel blew a save in a 3-2 loss.

"That's part of baseball, not everything goes perfect every time you go out there," Kimbrel said. "You just have to find a way to get through it. Unfortunately, we weren't able to do it tonight."

Alex Wood will take the ball on Friday trying to put back-to-back wins together after beating Philadelphia his last time out. Wood held the Phillies to a run and three hits over six innings in that one to improve to 7-7, while lowering his ERA to 3.24.

"In terms of that first start back, it's a little nerve-wracking, because you hope you go out there and have that same feel you had before the break and during the beginning of the season," Wood said. "My No. 1 goal going into my first start back after the All-Star break was no walks, and somehow I was able to manage not to walk anybody, so hopefully I'll just continue to build off that."

Wood, who will be making his first-ever start versus the Padres, is 2-1 with a 2.87 ERA in five starts since returning to the rotation.

San Diego, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jesse Hahn, who is 5-2 with a 2.21 ERA. Hahn hasn't pitched since July 11 when he beat the Los Angeles Dodgers by allowing a run and three hits over six innings.

Hahn has lasted at least five full innings in all of his starts except his debut.

"Just like any pitcher, we'll watch the game," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We'll watch how he's throwing. But as far as an innings limit or pitch limit, no. He's built up his stamina where it needs to be. He's a young pitcher, fresh arm. He should be fine to go."

San Diego, which has won four of five overall after taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs this past week, has beaten the Braves in seven of the last nine matchups.