Padres-Braves preview

ATLANTA -- Matt Kemp has been an adventure in left field at times since being acquired by the Atlanta Braves from the San Diego Padres, but the high-priced veteran definitely has been a boost to the offense.

Atlanta is averaging 4.8 runs per game since Kemp joined the lineup on Aug. 2, a sizable rise from the 3.4 the team recorded prior to the deal. As a result, the Braves are a more respectable 11-15 because of the offensive improvement.

Kemp will play for the first time against his old team on Tuesday when the Braves (48-83) begin a three-game series against the Padres (55-75) at Turner Field. Julio Teheran (3-9, 3.15 ERA) will pitch for Atlanta against Edwin Jackson (3-4, 5.71 ERA).

Kemp has three homers and 16 RBIs in his 26 games since joining the Braves, but his biggest contribution has been providing a right-handed bat in the cleanup spot between left-handed hitters Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis.

Freeman and Markakis both have been on tears since Kemp joined the team.

"Markakis has been killing it just as much as Freddie has been killing it," Kemp said. "We're trying to protect each other."

Kemp had 23 homers before the trade, but the Padres were determined to get out from under the remaining years of his hefty contract. Likewise, the Braves wanted no part of Hector Olivera, who was coming off a suspension for domestic abuse.

The Padres released Olivera, but the Braves hope to get a return on the $18 million they will have to pay Kemp the next three seasons even if he doesn't quite return to the player he once was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kemp welcomed the trade to the Braves. The key, though, will be staying healthy and getting in better shape.

Braves general manager John Coppolella was blunt in a recent interview on MLB Network Radio.

"We see Matt Kemp as a player with a big upside," the GM said. "He's 31 years old. He is not in shape and that's something we need to work on with him. He's been told about it. We are going to talk to him more. It's the kind of thing where, for him, you can't really do that during the season. It's not like you can drop 30 pounds during the season and keep playing."

The Padres weren't convinced that Kemp would get in better shape and regain his former productivity. Plus he was perceived as a detriment in the clubhouse.

San Diego is 11-16 since Kemp was dealt and opened its road trip by taking two of three games over the weekend in Miami.

The Padres won a three-game series with the Braves in San Diego during early June, but the Braves are 44-25 against them at Turner Field.

Teheran pitched the one victory for the Braves at San Diego, allowing five hits over eight innings on June 8 in the 4-2 victory.

The National League All-Star hasn't won since June 19, though, and the right-hander is winless at home this season.

Teheran is also coming off his first outing of the year, giving up 11 hits and six runs at Arizona on Wednesday in a no-decision during the team's 3-4 road trip. The two homers he allowed pushed his season total to 18 and he has surrendered nine runs on 17 hits over 11 innings in his two starts since a DL stint for a lat strain.

Jackson, who finished last season pitching out of the Atlanta bullpen, has also struggled in his past two starts, allowing 13 earned runs over nine innings while losing both.

The veteran right-hander gave up three homers in a loss to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, but pitched much better than he had in his previous outing at Tampa Bay.

"The hits came on the balls that weren't well-located," he said afterward. "You've just got to do a better job of getting ahead in the count."

"He was on the cusp of a very respectable outing against a really good offense," manager Andy Green said. "I don't necessarily think he's that far off."

Jackson, though, has had difficulty against both Kemp and Freeman. Kemp has two homers in eight at-bats against him and Freeman has two in 17 at-bats.