San Diego Padres starting pitcher Mat Latos (38) works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta Tuesday, May 31, 2011. Latos earned the victory as San Diego defeated Atlanta 5-4. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
ATLANTA — Ryan Ludwick had an RBI single in the three-run seventh inning, Heath Bell struggled to earn a fourth straight save and the San Diego Padres beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 on Tuesday night for their season-high fourth consecutive victory.
The Padres had not won four consecutive games since they had a five-game streak last Aug. 15-19. They also took a series against the Braves for just the second time in the last 13 tries.
Ludwick, who went 4-for-5, has hit safely in 15 of 18 games, raising his batting average 77 points to .258 since May 10. He finished the month with 23 RBIs.
Bell survived a tough ninth to earn his 14th in 15 chances. He retired pinch-hitter Joe Mather on a foul popup before walking Jordan Schafer. He got Martin Prado to fly out, but Chipper Jones’ RBI single scored Schafer from second. Bell forced Brian McCann to fly out to end it, marking the second time in his career, and first since last Aug. 10-13, that he got a save in four straight games.
Mat Latos (3-6) allowed five hits and two runs with four walks and seven strikeouts in six innings.
San Diego, which finished with 14 hits, took a 5-2 lead in the seventh with RBI singles off rookie reliever Cory Gearrin from Chris Denorfia, Ludwick and Jorge Cantu. Denorfia went 3-for-5 and scored two runs.
San Diego took a 1-0 lead in the third on a double from Chase Headley that scored Jason Bartlett from first.
Freddie Freeman put the Braves ahead 2-1 with a two-run double that scored McCann from second and Eric Hinske from first. Freeman went 3-for-4. He and Jones were the only Braves with more than one hit.
Mike Minor (0-2) couldn’t hold a one-run lead in the fourth. Denorfia led off with a double, moved to third on Bartlett’s single and scored to make it 2-2 on Headley’s double-play groundout.
Minor faced one batter in the seventh, walking leadoff pinch-hitter Eric Patterson before Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez brought in Gearrin.
In six innings, Minor allowed eight hits and three runs with three walks and four strikeouts.
Jones followed in the Braves’ seventh with an RBI single off San Diego’s first reliever, Luke Gregorson, to make it 5-3. Left-hander Cory Luebke recorded the third out with a three-pitch strikeout of McCann.
Minor, who was recalled May 25 for a spot start as RHP Tim Hudson recovered from lower back discomfort, dropped to 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA in his last seven starts.