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Braves complete sweep behind Medlen

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- In his last start, Kris Medlen complained that he was removed from the game too early and not given a chance to pitch out of trouble. Medlen, who later apologized for sounding off to the media, had nothing to complain about Thursday night because he never got in trouble.

Medlen pitched seven scoreless innings and helped the Atlanta Braves to a 3-1 win and a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians. The win was Atlanta's 12th sweep of the season and the Braves improved their record to a major-league best 47-18 at home.

Medlen (11-12) ended his two-game losing streak by scattering six hits, striking out six and walking none in a 96-pitch appearance. It was his 17th quality start in 26 outings. No Cleveland player advanced past second base against the right-hander.

"Medlen was terrific, he really was," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He had command from the beginning. All of his pitches were working."

Medlen delivered the third straight impressive start for Atlanta in the series. The Braves allowed only three runs in the three games, two of them by the bullpen, and reduced their magic number to win the National League East to 17.

"The whole series they had the ability to get the big hit and we didn't," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "(Medlen) knows how to pitch. We squared up some balls early and when we'd get runners on he'd begin to throw backwards. He's a pitcher. He knows what he's doing."

Medlen is now 24-3 when he is given a lead.

"Anytime a pitcher is given a lead, you want to stay aggressive," Medlen said. "You want to be aggressive, not let them have anything free and make my pitches."

Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his league-leading 43rd save. Kimbrel converted his 33rd consecutive save opportunity, extending his own club record.

Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez (9-9) pitched well but lost his second straight start. Jimenez, who threw a no-hitter against Atlanta at Turner Field in 2010, matched his season high with 10 strikeouts. He scattered seven hits, but one of them was Brian McCann's three-run homer.

"The last two times, whatever the reason, he's seemed to find a little extra gear," Francona said. "He just made a mistake to the wrong guy."

The Indians threatened in the top of the third. Michael Bourn dropped a single into right field with two outs and stole second base but was stranded when Nick Swisher struck out.

McCann got Atlanta on the board in the bottom of the third with a long three-run homer into the right-field seats. It was McCann's 19th home run this season and his first since Aug. 17 against Washington.

"B. Mac capitalized on a huge mistake pitch and I had to take advantage and keep putting zeroes up and the defense played great," Medlen said.

The third inning started when Andrelton Simmons lined a double into the left-field corner. But he was thrown out at third base when Nationals catcher Yan Gomes fielded Medlen's sacrifice bunt quickly and cleanly. After Jordan Schafer struck out, Justin Upton kept the inning alive with a single that hat set up McCann's home run, which put Atlanta ahead 3-0.

Cleveland scored its lone run in the eighth when Lonnie Chisenhall hit his first career pinch-homer off Atlanta reliever David Carpenter. It was Chisenhall's eighth home run of the year.

"We're not hitting right now," said Francona, whose team is 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers entering their three-game series in Detroit. "Once they get to the ballpark, they feel pretty good, which they should."

NOTES: Upton left the game in the fifth inning after being hit by a pitch on the left hand. An X-ray revealed no broken bones and Upton is listed as day to day. ... Cleveland's Jason Kipnis extended his hitting streak to four games for the Indians with a single in the first inning. ... Atlanta gave 1B Freddie Freeman the night off. He had played every game since the All-Star Game. But the night off was short-lived when Upton was hit by a pitch and Freeman was inserted as a pinch runner. ... It was Dragon Con Night at Turner Field with special guests Lou Ferrigno, who starred in the TV series "The Incredible Hulk" from 1978 to 1982, and Lucy Lawless, who starred in "Xena: Warrior Princess" from 1995 to 2001.
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