Unlike last year, Kris Medlen has encountered his fair share of ups and downs. The right-hander, though, has settled in nicely over the last five weeks.
Medlen tries to win a fourth consecutive home start Tuesday night as the Braves continue a three-game set against the New York Mets.
After going 6-10 with a 3.78 ERA in his first 20 starts, Medlen appears to have recaptured his form from 2012. He has gone 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his last six starts while striking out 32 and walking five over 39 innings.
"People were expecting him to do the same thing," manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Medlen's success last year, when he went 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in 12 regular-season starts after joining the rotation in late July. "That's just a fantasy."
Medlen (11-12, 3.58 ERA) has been especially good at home, where he has posted a 1.35 ERA during a career-high three-start winning streak.
"I'm being aggressive," he said. "Hopefully, I can keep it going through September and October."
Medlen delivered one of his strongest efforts of the season Thursday, scattering six hits over seven scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory over Cleveland.
"His command has been good," Gonzalez told MLB's official website. "Right from the start today, all of his pitches were working. He gave us a (heck of an) outing."
Medlen had gone 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA in his first seven starts against the Mets before yielding four runs in 5 1-3 innings in a 4-1 road loss July 23.
The Braves (84-53) have won seven of eight after taking Monday's opener 13-5. Freddie Freeman went 2 for 5 with a homer and career high-tying five RBIs as Atlanta matched its highest run total of the year.
"When you go out there and face guys you haven't seen, my approach is to go up there and be aggressive," said Freeman, who is 50 for 114 (.439) with runners in scoring position. "It was kind of easier with guys on base. They have to come after you and they don't want to walk you and load up the bases."
The Braves have compiled a 27-4 home record when Freeman drives in at least one run. The slugging first baseman is batting .333 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs in his last 31 games against New York (62-74).
Jordan Schafer had four of Atlanta's 17 hits to go along with three stolen bases Monday before leaving with a strained lower back. He is considered day to day.
Losers in eight of 12, the Mets give the ball to Carlos Torres (3-2, 2.77), who continues to fill in for the injured Matt Harvey. After 13 consecutive relief appearances, the right-hander gave up four hits over 6 2-3 innings of one-run ball to beat Philadelphia 11-3 on Thursday.
"I think of it as, I'm just another pitcher. There is no replacing Harvey," he said. "It's an audition every time you go out there. I'm just trying to show them that I'm willing to do anything."
Torres has made four starts this season, allowing one run in three of those outings and eight in the other. He yielded one run in six innings opposite Medlen in July to earn the victory.
Torres is 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA in six games - one start - against Atlanta. Freeman is 0 for 5 in their matchups.
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