Red-hot Ross aims to hurl Padres to sweep of Braves

( - When you start getting mentioned in the same paragraphs as Clayton Kershaw, you know you are tasting some success as a National League pitcher.

San Diego starter Tyson Ross can continue that recent run on Sunday afternoon when the Padres attempt to finish off a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the series finale at Petco Park.

The Padres have won six in a row at home against Atlanta.

A winner in three straight starts for the first time in his career, Ross tossed 19 innings, struck out 24 batters and gave up two hits during that stretch. For July as a whole, he was 4-2 with 48 strikeouts and a 1.10 earned run average - the latter of which was second in the NL, behind only Kershaw, the Dodgers' ace who seems en route to another Cy Young Award.

Ross has pitched eight straight games in which he's lasted at least six innings and given up two or fewer runs. Only Seattle's Felix Hernandez, at 14, has a longer active streak.

His ERA at Petco Park this season is a stingy 1.86 and he's surrendered just one run in his last 25 innings of work at home. But he has never faced the Braves.

Atlanta starts veteran Aaron Harang, who's gone seven starts without a loss while winning four decisions and maintaining an ERA well below 3.00. He was dinged for four runs on nine hits in six innings of his last start, though he got a no-decision in the Braves' 8-4 loss to the Dodgers.

He's 3-0 against the Padres -- for whom he pitched in 2011 and won 14 games -- with a 1.35 ERA in his last five starts. The last one came in May 2013, while he was with Seattle.

Atlanta has managed just 12 runs in its last six games, losing the last five while falling 2 1/2 games off the pace of the Washington Nationals in the NL's East Division.

Jason Heyward is one of the few recently hot hitters, compiling a .377 average since July 8 and rapping two hits on Saturday after missing four games with a back injury.

"It's been four days, but it seems like it's been a month," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

On Saturday, Will Venable drove in the winning run with a single in the 12th inning to get the Padres past the Braves, 3-2. With Craig Kimbrel (0-3) on the mound, Yangervis Solarte drew a walk. After Seth Smith struck out, walks by Jedd Gyorko and Chris Nelson loaded the bases for Venable, who lined a shot over the head of a leaping Heyward in right field.

Solarte also drove in a run and scored twice, while Rene Rivera had two hits and scored a run for the Padres. Tim Stauffer (3-2) pitched two innings to earn the win.

Freddie Freeman had three hits and an RBI, while Chris Johnson drove in the other run for the Braves.

Ervin Santana pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts for Atlanta. Ian Kennedy worked five innings in his start for San Diego, allowing one run on two hits and five walks while striking out seven.

Though they lost three of four to the Braves last weekend, the Padres did sweep the club in three games at home a season ago.