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Tue, Aug 13, 2013 - 7:10 PM ET
 

Phillies-Braves Preview

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An off night offensively led to a loss for the Atlanta Braves their last time out.

Kris Medlen hopes that won't become a trend Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies as he seeks to win his fourth consecutive start for the NL East leaders.

The Braves (72-47) went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position in Monday night's 5-1 loss, a stark contrast from their recent winning ways in which they batted .309 in such situations and averaged 6.2 runs while winning 12 of 13. Cole Hamels limited Atlanta to six hits and finished one out shy of a shutout.

"We know any time we play the Phillies that this could happen with the arms that they run out there,'' said third baseman Chris Johnson after Atlanta lost for only the second time in 17 games.

Johnson is hitting .353 with four doubles and two homers versus Philadelphia this season and .394 in his last 17 games overall. Jason Heyward is hitting .393 over his last 15 games, while Brian McCann is 13 for 25 in six games against the Phillies in 2013.

Medlen (9-10, 3.85 ERA) has seen his offense sputter at times, getting backed with only two runs while going 0-3 with an 8.59 ERA in a three-start losing streak prior to his turnaround. He has been given 16 runs during this winning streak, enough of a cushion to overcome a 4.26 ERA in that span.

The right-hander allowed three runs and three hits in seven innings of a 6-3 win over Washington on Wednesday, citing new-found confidence in his curveball as a key reason for his improvement.

"It's not just like a spinning little get-me-over pitch," he told the team's official website. "It's like I can put guys away with it, and it's just another pitch to get them off my changeup, which I think is my best pitch."

Medlen posted his first victory in three starts this season against the Phillies on Aug. 2 despite allowing three home runs and four runs overall in six innings of a 6-4 victory. He is 1-2 with a 6.61 ERA this year versus Philadelphia and has struggled in his career against Carlos Ruiz, who is 6 for 9 in this matchup, and Domonic Brown, who is 3 for 6 with a home run.

Ethan Martin (1-1, 6.75), who took the loss against Medlen in his major league debut less than two weeks ago, will try to avenge that defeat in his third career start. The right-hander bounced back from that defeat Wednesday by limiting the Chicago Cubs to a solo homer and three other hits in five innings of a 12-1 rout.

Philadelphia, which has batted .218 while winning four of its last 21, has not posted consecutive victories since a three-game win streak around the All-Star break.

While Chase Utley - who homered off Medlen earlier this month - is batting .333 (10 for 30) with five extra-base hits in a seven-game hitting streak at Turner Field, Michael Young's struggles continued. He went 0 for 4 Monday, is 5 for 35 against the Braves this season and is batting .111 (5 for 45) in his last 14 road games.

Tagged: Braves, Phillies, Kris Medlen

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