If Tyson Ross can replicate his performance from July on Sunday versus Atlanta, the Padres shouldn't have too many issues sweeping their series against the Braves.
The All-Star just completed the best month of his career, as he led MLB with 48 strikeouts and held opponents to a .194 batting average while winning four games. He allowed only 28 hits in 41 innings and posted a 1.10 ERA in six starts, the second-best mark in the National League during July.
Ross, however, didn't have his best command in his last start against St. Louis, as he walked five in the first three innings.
"His fastball was just a little out of sync, and the harder he tried to reel it in, the tougher it was," said Padres manager Bud Black.
But Ross followed the old adage of bending but not breaking, and recovered to allow just one run across six innings with seven strikeouts.
"It's kind of frustrating when you can't really control the fastball and throw it for strikes," Ross said. "I had a lot of guys on base, a lot of tough situations, but the defense made some great plays."
His counterpart, Aaron Harang, also wasn't his sharpest in his last outing. He blew Atlanta's early lead against the Dodgers, allowing four runs in six innings.
Still, the right-hander has surpassed all expectations this season.
The veteran has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 14 of 22 starts, and surprisingly is on pace to record the lowest ERA (3.43) of his career at age 36. He hasn't lost a decision since June 18, a span of seven starts.
The San Diego native posted 1.63 ERA in three starts he made as a member of the Dodgers at Petco Park in 2012.
Braves: Heyward returns from back strain
Jason Heyward returned to Atlanta's starting lineup on Saturday after missing the first four games of the team's West Coast road trip with a lower back strain.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez was especially anxious for Heyward's return since the Braves lost all four of those contests.
"When you're talking about an impact guy like that being out of the lineup, four days seems like a month," Gonzalez said.
After running a few sprints in the outfield early Saturday afternoon, Heyward deemed himself ready to resume his starting right-field duties against the Padres a few hours later. Heyward went 2-for-5 with a double and also made a splendid leaping grab in right field to rob Padres outfielder Seth Smith of extra bases.
Padres: Cashner will make rehab start Friday
Padres ace Andrew Cashner, on the disabled list since June 21 with right shoulder soreness, will make his first Minor League rehabilitation start on Friday for the team's Class A Advanced affiliate in Lake Elsinore, Calif.
Cashner threw an extended bullpen session before Saturday's game against the Braves at Petco Park. He'll travel with the team on Monday to Minnesota, where he will throw another bullpen session before flying back to California. San Diego manager Bud Black said he expects Cashner to throw between 30-40 pitches for Lake Elsinore, and that the right-hander will need to rebuild his stamina before rejoining the big league team. Cashner has actually been free and clear of any residual shoulder soreness for quite some time, but he developed neck soreness that bothered him leading up to the All-Star break.
Cashner is 2-6 with a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts. He also missed time in May with soreness in his right elbow.
• After fielding the Majors' worst offense by a wide margin in the first half, the Padres have scored the most runs (74) of any National League team since the All-Star break.
• The Braves lead the Majors in quality starts (77). The Dodgers, Reds and Brewers are tied for second place with 70.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.