Marlins can't find answer to Medlen, Braves

BY foxsports • September 19, 2012

MIAMI (AP) -- At least the Miami Marlins won't have to face Chipper Jones any more.

Kris Medlen pitched eight innings of four-hit ball and the Atlanta Braves won his start for the 21st straight time, beating the Marlins 3-0 on Wednesday night.

It was the 244th and final time that the Marlins faced Jones, who is retiring when the season ends. He went 1 for 4 in his finale at Miami, getting hit No. 2,721 to tie Lou Gehrig for 58th on baseball's career list.

How much has Jones tormented the Marlins for nearly two decades? No player has logged more games, hits, runs, home runs or RBIs against them than Jones has over his career.

"It's always fun facing him," Marlins starter Josh Johnson said. "He's one of the best hitters I've ever seen. It's always fun facing the best."

Well, maybe Wednesday wasn't entirely fun for Miami, which was shut out for the 16th time.

Medlen (9-1) lost the first two starts of his career in 2009. He hasn't taken a loss in any of his 26 starts since, with the Braves prevailing in the last 21 of those -- making them the first team since the New York Yankees to have such a streak, according to STATS LLC. The Yankees won 22 straight times when Whitey Ford started from 1950 through 1953, a span interrupted by his service during the Korean War.

Medlen tried to dismiss any comparison with the Hall of Famer. He struck out six and walked one while lowering his ERA from 1.62 to 1.51.

"Whitey Ford? Pfft. Let's go. Come on. Don't even say it," Medlen said.

Rob Brantly doubled for Miami, which dropped two of three in the series. Atlanta, closing in on securing at least an NL wild-card spot, has won 12 of its last 17 games.

"Medlen threw the crap out of the ball," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We pitched well, but Medlen pitched better. I think this kid is, `Wow.' He put on a show out there."

The first of Medlen's 10 starts this season was against Miami on July 31, when he allowed one run over five innings and the Braves picked up a 7-1 victory. Little did anyone know then how the next few weeks would go -- he's now 8-0 with a 0.76 ERA as a starter, as opposed to his 2.48 ERA in 54 1-3 innings in 38 relief appearances to start the season.

Medlen threw 99 pitches Wednesday, 66 for strikes.

"I thought he was good. I thought he was really good," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Commanded the strike zone, both sides of the plate. We played some good (defense) behind him. ... That's a byproduct of Medlen pounding the strike zone, getting the ball, throwing the ball over and keeping guys on their toes."

Atlanta also made sure he had the lead before even taking the mound. Michael Bourn led off the game with a double and scored two batters later on Jason Heyward's sacrifice fly to center off Johnson, whose woes continued.

Johnson (8-13) gave up five hits, three walks and three runs in six innings, striking out five. The Marlins have now lost seven of his last eight starts.

"First three innings it was all over the place, whether it was fouling balls off and getting deep into counts or getting a couple guys 0-2, 1-2 and then just letting them back in," Johnson said. "You can't do that."

Dan Uggla scored in the second after drawing his NL-leading 89th walk, stealing second and coming around on Jose Constanza's single to center. The lead went to 3-0 in the third when Atlanta made Johnson pay for another walk -- a leadoff pass to Martin Prado turned into a run on Freddie Freeman's sacrifice fly.

Medlen worked his way out of a little trouble in the fifth. Donovan Solano singled and went to third when Medlen's one-out pickoff throw sailed past first base. But Medlen got Bryan Petersen to pop up into short center field -- Uggla, the second baseman, had his throw home go up the third-base line, but Solano was held anyway -- and then Gorkys Hernandez grounded to shortstop to end the inning.

Like Medlen was to be compared with Ford, Jones said it was humbling to be linked with Gehrig.

"That's the Iron Horse, man," Jones said. "Just really honored to have as many hits in my career as one of the greatest in the game. Now we've got to work on passing him."

The Marlins gave Jones a fly-fishing rod and a slew of accessories to commemorate his last game in Miami. Jones got an ovation from the crowd before his last at-bat in Miami, a groundout in the eighth.

NOTES: The Marlins and Braves both have Thursday off. Miami plans to pitch RHP Jacob Turner in New York on Friday against LHP Jonathon Niese, while Atlanta is expected to start RHP Tommy Hanson in Philadelphia on Friday against RHP Kyle Kendrick. ... Braves SS Paul Janish, who dislocated his left shoulder on Tuesday night, returned to Atlanta for evaluation. It's unknown if he could be back before the end of the regular season.