MLB

Sat, Sep 14, 2013 - 7:10 PM ET
 

Padres-Braves Preview

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The Atlanta Braves may own the NL's best record, but they sure don't look the part lately with a mediocre offense.

They'll likely need to turn things around Saturday night against the San Diego Padres to avoid their first three-game home slide in over four months.

Atlanta's magic number for clinching the NL East remained at six following a 4-3 loss to San Diego in Friday's opener as second-place Washington claimed a 6-1 win over Philadelphia. The Braves (88-59) looked primed for a win with a 3-0 lead after six innings and five scoreless frames from David Hale in his first big league start.

But the Padres (67-79) scored two runs each in both the seventh and eighth innings, with pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe delivering the go-ahead single.

The Braves' only runs came on homers from Justin Upton and Brian McCann in the third. They're hitting .197 with 33 runs scored during a 4-6 stretch since a 13-5 win over the New York Mets on Sept. 2.

Despite homering Friday, Upton and McCann are a combined 6 for 54 (.111) during that stretch.

The only other time Atlanta lost three in a row at Turner Field this season was May 1-3, with two defeats to the Nationals and one against the Mets.

Even if their offense continues to struggle to produce, the Braves figure to have a good chance with Kris Medlen (13-12, 3.46 ERA) on the mound. Medlen is 4-2 with a 1.98 ERA over his last six starts and has been particularly tough lately at home, posting a 4-1 record and 1.50 ERA in his last five outings there.

After starting the year 1-6 overall, he pushed his record over the .500 mark for the first time by allowing two runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 5-2 win at Miami on Monday.

"It's pretty fun to look back and see that I started 1-6 and kind of turned things around," said Medlen, whose cause was helped by Atlanta's five-run fourth inning. "I'm not the one scoring the runs, and they had a huge inning for me today. It's kind of what's gotten me to this point this year."

Medlen has also been strong versus San Diego, going 2-2 with a 1.33 ERA over six matchups. Two were starts in which he threw a combined 17 scoreless innings, though Chase Headley - who homered in the eighth on Friday - is 3 for 8 off him.

The Padres will counter with left-handed rookie Robbie Erlin (2-2, 5.56). Erlin has been solid in two starts since being recalled from the minors after the release of Edinson Volquez, winning once and limiting opponents to three runs over 11 1-3 innings.

One of the club's top pitching prospects, Erlin went 1-2 with a 7.15 ERA in six games - four starts - earlier in the year.

Atlanta's Jason Heyward took batting practice prior to Friday's contest for the first time since a pitch fractured his right jaw Aug. 21, though there still isn't a timetable for his return. The Braves hope to get him back before the regular season's end.

Medlen has received a decision in 19 consecutive starts, going 12-7.

Atlanta had won nine straight games against NL West opponents prior to Friday.

San Diego has won six of the last seven meetings while limiting the Braves to 18 runs.

Tagged: Braves, Padres, Kris Medlen

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