Braves win 7th straight behind Medlen

ATLANTA (AP) — Kris Medlen felt relaxed before
making his first start in nearly two years.

For a guy
who’s started just 19 of 109 career appearances, he didn’t feel any
jitters.

“I was much more calm,” he said. “If you’d
asked me that in the first start I had, it would’ve been completely
different. But I just felt like I was in
control.”

Medlen had a successful return to the
rotation, Brian McCann homered and the Atlanta Braves beat the Miami
Marlins 7-1 on Tuesday night for their seventh straight
win.

Atlanta has won 10 of 13 to close within 2 games
of first-place Washington in the NL East following the Nationals’ 8-0
loss to Philadelphia.

Rain delayed the game 1 hour,
53 minutes before the start of the sixth
inning.

Medlen (2-1) allowed four hits, one run and
one walk with three strikeouts in five innings. He made his first start
since receiving no-decision in an 8-3 win over the New York Mets on Aug.
4, 2010.

“He gave us everything we wanted him to,”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He was trying to talk us into going
one more inning, but no chance. He goes back (to start) on Sunday, and
we’ll add another 20-25 pitches to his outing and hopefully get us
deeper in the ballgame.”

McCann’s 18th homer, a solo
shot, gave the Braves a 4-1 lead in the third. In his last 19 games,
McCann has nine homers and 20 RBIs.

“I’ve been
feeling good for a while,” McCann said. “The first half (of the season)
was — I’ve got a lot of making up to do. Hopefully this next month I’ll
just keep going. I’ve got two more months to finish strong and keep
going.”

Ricky Nolasco (8-10) gave up seven hits, four
runs and four walks and struck out six in five innings. He has lost
four straight starts and has a 7.48 ERA over that
span.

Donnie Murphy’s third homer made it 1-0 in the
first, but the Braves took a 3-1 lead in the bottom half of the
inning.

After Martin Prado and Jason Heyward singled
and advanced on Nolasco’s balk, McCann’s RBI groundout made it
1-1.

Dan Uggla walked to load the bases before Juan
Francisco’s liner scored Heyward from third and Uggla from second to put
the Braves up 3-1.

Nolasco, who made 18 of his 34
pitches for balls and had a mound visit from pitching coach Randy St.
Claire in the first, dropped to 0-3 with an 8.79 ERA in three starts
against Atlanta this season.

After McCann’s homer,
Nolasco escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third by striking out
Medlen.

“Your team gives you a 1-0 lead and to come
in and give up three, it sucks all the energy out of the team right off
the bat,” Nolasco said. “It’s not what you’re looking to do as a
starting pitcher.”

Rookie Tyler Pastornicky hit his
first career pinch-hit homer and his second this year off Dan Jennings
to make it 5-1 in the sixth. After second baseman Emilio Bonifacio’s
fielding error, Heyward followed with an RBI single for a 6-1
lead.

Atlanta added a run in the eighth. McCann
scored from second when Freddie Freeman singled off Ryan Webb and left
fielder Greg Dobbs made a fielding error.

Miami has
lost two straight and 10 of 13.

Cory Gearrin, Chad
Durbin, Eric O’Flaherty and Jair Jurrjens combined to allow the Marlins
three hits and no walks with two strikeouts in the last four innings.
Since July 3, Atlanta’s bullpen has a 1.92 ERA over a 24-game
span.

Medlen, who made his 19th career start, was 1-1
with a 2.48 ERA in 38 relief appearances this season. He won as a
starter for the first time since July 7, 2010, at
Philadelphia.

“I love the mound presence,” Gonzalez
said. “I love seeing him getting the ball back on the rubber, and he
says, `Here it is. Hit it.’ Murphy hits a homer on the (fifth) pitch of
the game and it doesn’t even bother him.”

The Braves
have won 10 of 12 at Turner
Field.

NOTES: Francisco went
3-for-3 with an intentional walk. … In the third, Freeman singled and
stole his first base since July 30, 2011, also against the Marlins. …
Atlanta RHP Tommy Hanson was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained
lower back. Gearrin was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to take his
place on the roster. … Miami traded RHP Edward Mujica to St. Louis for
minor league 3B Zack Cox and dealt 1B Gaby Sanchez and a minor league
pitcher to Pittsburgh for OF Gorkys Hernandez and a draft pick. …
Atlanta LHP Paul Maholm will join his new team Wednesday and will likely
start Saturday against Houston. … OF Reed Johnson was in uniform one
night after getting traded with Maholm from the Cubs. To make room
Johnson, the Braves optioned OF Jose Constanza to Gwinnett.