Padres recover from being swept by taking opener against Braves in Atlanta

Friars staff punches out 18 to end losing streak

On Friday night in Atlanta we got a look at the diversity in the San Diego Padres pitching staff. The starter had a knuckleball dancing on the breeze ... the guys who came in after him bring a left-handed splitter, a right-handed slider, a 100-MPH fastball, and another with elite spin rate on his heater.

When all of them are on their game that can leave an opposing lineup grasping at straws, which is exactly what happened in a 3-1 Padres win over the Braves to open a 4-game series in Georgia. Matt Waldron, Yuki Mastui, Enyel De Los Santos, Robert Suarez, and Jeremiah Estrada combined to strike out 18 Atlanta hitters (and no, I did not list the last two out of order).

Waldron was committed to his knuckleball and it was working. The righty punched out a career-high 10 and only allowed one run in his 5.2 innings of work. He got some run support, which has not always been the case in his starts, in the 5th inning when the Friars employed the "death by paper cuts" approach. Luis Arraez singles, Fernando Tatis Jr. walked Jurickson Profar singled to score Arraez, Jake Cronenworth singled to score Tatis, and Manny Machado brought home Profar with an RBI groundout. San Diego had 13 hits, all of them singles.

That would be enough for the arms. Matsui and De Los Santos got them to the 8th inning with a 3-1 lead and manager Mike Shildt made an interesting tactical choice. He sent closer Robert Suarez out for the 8th inning. The 2-3-4 spots in the order ... Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna, and Matt Olson ... were due up. All are All-Stars and represent the biggest threat to the lead. So, Shildt went to his best bullpen arm an inning early.

It worked to perfection. Suarez worked around a pair of hits to toss another scoreless frame then gave way to Jeremiah Estrada, the youngster who had success as the closer for Triple-A El Paso. He might have a future at the back of a big league bullpen, too. Estrada punched out the side to earn his first career Major League save and snap San Diego's 3-game losing skid.

The rest of the series is shaping up nicely for the Friars, too. They send Yu Darvish, who's working on a streak of 18 scoreless innings, to the mound on Saturday and are expecting to get Joe Musgrove back from the Injured List for Sunday. Monday will be Dylan Cease, who's been the most consistent Padres starter this season.

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