Rotation woes

The Padres' already tenuous rotation suffered another shockwave Friday when Dewon Brazelton was sent to the bullpen after two disastrous starts and Clay Hensley was named to start in Brazelton's spot Tuesday in Colorado.

Brazelton was shelled in each of his first two starts. He is 0-2 with a 24.16 ERA. Over 6 1/3 innings -- in outings against lesser-regarded Colorado and Florida -- Brazelton gave up 17 runs (all earned) on 17 hits (including four homers) and six walks.

Actually, Brazelton's ERA came down 10.55 runs Thursday at Florida when the Marlins scored eight runs on six hits and four walks in four innings. He had allowed nine runs on 11 hits in 2 1/3 innings in his first start.

But in promoting Hensley to the rotation, the Padres might have created holes elsewhere -- although Hensley has also struggled at the start of the season.

Counted upon to be the sixth/seventh inning setup man in front of Scott Linebrink and closer Trevor Hoffman, Hensley has a 9.00 ERA after six appearances this season. He failed to hold the lead against Colorado April 7 in the only save situation the Padres bullpen has had this season.

In five innings, Hensley has allowed five runs on 10 hits and three walks.

Hensley, 26, was a starter throughout his minor league career before being promoted to the Padres last July. Twenty-three of his 24 appearances with the Padres were out of the bullpen and he finished the season with a 1.70 ERA in 47 2/3 innings.

The question now is whether or not Brazelton will get another chance as a starter. If not, will he be retained on the Padres roster or optioned to Triple- A Portland to make room for another starter -- and clear the way for Hensley's return to the bullpen.

Padres manager Bruce Bochy clearly is puzzled by the 25-year-old Brazelton, who had a 1.77 ERA in spring training after coming to San Diego from Tampa Bay in an off-season trade for another former first-round draft pick, Sean Burroughs.

"It looks like he just loses his focus out there at times, especially with men on base," said Bochy, who also based his decision to make the change in the rotation on Brazelton's amazing career road record.

After Thursday's debacle at Florida, Brazelton fell to 0-16 lifetime on the road with a 8.59 ERA in 105 2/3 innings. Overall as a major leaguer, Brazelton is 8-25 with a 6.42 ERA. Putting him out at Colorado might have pushed Brazelton over the deep end. So, instead, the short straw goes to Hensley.

At the end of spring training, the Padres rotation was RHP Jake Peavy, LHP Shawn Estes, RHP Chris Young and RHP Brazelton with RHPs Woody Williams and Chan Ho Park waiting in the wings for the No. 5 spot.

With Estes on the disabled list with a strained elbow flexor tendon and Brazelton banished to the bullpen, the order now is Peavy, Williams, Young, Hensley and Park.

REPLAY: Pitching was again a concern Friday night at Atlanta. And both the front and back ends failed this time.

Chan Ho Park allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings. But the Padres were still tied 4-4 going into the bottom of the eighth when manager Bruce Bochy turned the game over to the usually reliable Scott Linebrink.

"You look at their numbers and you'd think we were in a softball league when it was over." -- Bruce Bochy said on the Padres early season pitching woes.

Linebrink got the first two Braves he faced, then served up a game-winning homer to Jeff Francoeur, giving the Braves a 5-4 victory Friday. Linebrink gave up only four homers in all of 2005 when he was 8-1 with a 1.83 ERA.

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