ATLANTA — David Hale made Atlanta Braves history in his major league debut, but it didn’t pay off in a victory for either the right-hander or his team.
Chase Headley’s homer tied the game in the eighth inning, and Logan Forsythe followed by driving in the lead run with a pinch single as the San Diego Padres rallied against the Braves’ bullpen for a 4-3 victory Friday night.
Hale, a 25-year-old native of suburban Atlanta making a spot start, set a Braves debut record with nine strikeouts, allowing just four hits and a walk over five scoreless innings. The usually reliable Atlanta bullpen, though, couldn’t protect a 3-0 lead.
The loss dropped Atlanta to 0-4 against San Diego this season and kept the Braves’ magic number for winning the National League East at six.
The second-place Washington Nationals, who won their seventh consecutive game Friday, still trail the Braves by 10 games.
The Padres scored twice in the seventh inning on four hits as the Braves went through three relievers. A pinch single by Jesus Guzman drove in the first run, and Chris Denorfia knocked in the second with a sacrifice fly.
Headley jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Jordan Walden leading off the eighth and smashed his 11th homer of the season over the fence in right field. Tommy Medica walked, moved up on a wild pitch and scored when Forsythe’s liner off Scott Downs fell just in front of center fielder Jordan Schafer with two outs.
San Diego starter Ian Kennedy allowed homers to Justin Upton and Brian McCann in the fourth inning but was strong otherwise.
He gave up five hits and three runs in six innings, striking out five and walking two.
The Padres bullpen held the Braves hitless for three innings. Nick Vincent (5-3) struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh to earn the win. Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 30th save.
Held without a hit for the first three innings, the Braves jumped on Kennedy in the fourth. Upton picked on a first-pitch changeup for his 25th homer leading off the inning, and McCann hit his 20th on 0-2 fastball after a single by Freddie Freeman.
Hale fanned the side around two singles in the first inning, then ended the third and fourth innings on strikeouts with a runner in scoring position. He never had more than six strikeouts in a game this season for Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 games.
The Padres were 0-for-7 with runners on against Hale, whose only perfect inning was the second. He walked one to go with his nine strikeouts, throwing 56 of his 87 pitches for strikes.
The third-round draft choice in 2009 out of Princeton University got the start in place of veteran left-hander Paul Maholm, who experienced a tender elbow in his past two games. But an MRI showed no structural damage, and Maholm, 10-10 with a 4.35 ERA, is penciled in to return to the rotation next Friday against the Cubs in Chicago.
Notes: Braves OF Jason Heyward took batting practice for the first time since he suffered a broken jaw from being hit in the face by a pitch from Mets LHP Jon Niese in New York on July 21. Heyward hopes to be back in the lineup before the end of the regular season. … The Padres won two one-run games and a two-run contest in sweeping the Braves in San Diego on June 10-12. … Braves 2B Dan Uggla, in a 6-for-76 slump, didn’t start for the fourth time in five games. He is 4-for-35 since coming back from laser eye surgery and hitless in his past 13 at-bats. … RHP Kris Medlen (13-12, 3.46 ERA) will pitch for the Braves on Saturday night against Padres rookie LHP Robbie Erlin (2-2, 5.56). Medlen is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his past three starts.