Marlins go for second victory against Braves

BY foxsports • September 19, 2012

When Kris Medlen moved from the bullpen to make a start against the Miami Marlins seven weeks ago, the Atlanta Braves weren't sure exactly what to expect.

Every time he takes the mound now, they expect a win.

The Braves go for a 21st straight victory in a start by Medlen in Wednesday night's series finale in Miami.

Atlanta's four-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday with a 4-3, 10-inning loss. The Braves (85-64), whose magic number to clinch at least a wild-card spot is seven, rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the ninth on an RBI single by Dan Uggla and a two-run double by Brian McCann. But Jose Reyes ended it an inning later with a two-out RBI single.

Reyes finished with three hits and is 13 for 23 in his last five games, with Miami (66-83) winning three. It had won four of its previous 14 contests.

Atlanta lost to the Marlins for only the fourth time in 14 meetings, but seems to have a good chance of taking the finale behind Medlen (8-1, 1.62 ERA).

Since entering the rotation July 31, when he gave up a run over five innings in a 7-1 win over Miami, Medlen is 7-0 with a 0.86 ERA in nine starts, yielding one or zero runs eight times. He gave up two in an 11-3 win over the New York Mets on Sept. 8.

The right-hander followed up that outing by holding Washington to a run and five hits while striking out a career-high 13 in seven innings Friday. Atlanta scored in the bottom of the ninth to walk off with a 2-1 victory.

That marked the Braves' 20th straight win when Medlen is the starter, already a franchise record and the longest streak in the majors since the New York Yankees won 20 consecutive starts by Roger Clemens in 2001. The last streak longer than 20 came from 1950-53, when the Yankees won 22 straight starts by Hall of Famer Whitey Ford.

Medlen's streak dates to May 29, 2010, and the Braves picked up two wins over the Marlins behind him in July 2010.

"If we keep on winning when I'm on the mound, then keep running me out there," said Medlen, who was sidelined most of last year after elbow surgery. "It's just worked out that way. I don't know what it is."

While wins have been automatic for Atlanta in Medlen's starts, the Marlins have not enjoyed the same success behind Josh Johnson (8-12, 3.81) - despite his best efforts.

Johnson is 1-5 in his last seven outings despite yielding three runs or fewer six times. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Wednesday at Philadelphia before allowing three runs and four hits over the next two frames in a 3-1 loss.

"It's been that way all year," the righty said.

It's been the same story for Johnson against Atlanta.

He has a 1.23 ERA with 60 strikeouts over 44 innings in his last seven starts in the series, but is 2-2. He gave up two runs in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1 loss to the Braves on June 6, and one hit over six shutout innings in a 2-1 victory July 23.

McCann, who was back in the lineup Tuesday after missing two starts with right hamstring tendinitis, is 6 for 15 with a pair of doubles against Johnson since 2010.

Jason Heyward, who is hitting .339 with four homers and 15 runs in the season series, hasn't fared as well, going 2 for 12 in his career.