ATLANTA -- Jhoulys Chacin -- yes, Jhoulys Chacin -- provided a sizable chunk of the Padres' offense in their 5-2 defeat Friday in Atlanta.
Chacin, of course, would prefer to make his mark on the mound.
"I'd rather trade those two hits for two more innings or two less runs," Chacin said, after he allowed four runs over five-plus innings in the first game at SunTrust Park.
It's been a bit of a grind for Chacin through three starts with the Padres. He's been very sharp at times, showcasing the slider/sinker combo San Diego loves so much. But for the most part, he simply hasn't been in the strike zone early enough to make those pitches effective.
"He battled all day, which is great to see," said Padres manager Andy Green. "He just wasn't able to pitch consistently ahead in the count, so everything turned into more of a battle. You look back, solid effort, I just know there's a lot more in him."
Thus far, that's been the story with Chacin, who owns a 7.80 ERA this season (with most of the damage coming on Opening Day against the Dodgers). The Padres are adamant that the veteran right-hander can be a different pitcher from the one who struggled last season -- a season he opened in Atlanta with a 5.40 ERA in five starts for the Braves before he was dealt to the Angels.
Chacin hasn't proven it yet.
"I battled pretty much all game," Chacin said. "My pitches weren't that good today. I wasn't throwing enough strikes early in the count."
To his credit, Chacin was OK, aside from back-to-back doubles in the first inning by Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis.
"Chacin had really good movement on his fastball tonight," noted Ender Inciarte, who led off that frame with an infield single.
The Padres right-hander fell behind early when those doubles put the Braves up, 2-0. But he made up for half of that himself with a second-inning RBI dribbler up the third-base line. In the fifth, he tacked on a single to left.
But on the mound -- where it counts -- he wasn't quite as effective as he was over 6 2/3 scoreless frames against the Giants his last time out.
"He was much crisper [in his previous start]," Green said. "This time, he pitched behind to Freddie Freeman, pitched behind to Markakis. He battled through those at-bats. You look at this lineup, you pick your spots where you want to attack guys. You need to get ahead of those guys."