Braves-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves became the latest team to struggle against streaking San Diego after being shut down by top Padres prospect Casey Kelly.

Atlanta's Kris Medlen has shown he's capable of returning the favor.

Medlen will try to extend a 21-inning scoreless streak and improve to 5-0 as a starter Tuesday night when the Braves look to snap the Padres' eight-game winning streak.

In the last week, San Diego has played spoiler to several teams vying for a postseason spot. After defeating the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants on Aug. 19, it swept Pittsburgh and Arizona before recording a 3-0 win over Atlanta on Monday.

The Padres (60-70) received six stellar innings from Kelly, one of the key acquisitions in the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston in December 2010. He gave up three hits while Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer in the second inning.

"It's like a blur,'' Kelly said. "They're a great team. I had to keep the streak alive. I didn't want to break up the streak or I might get sent down."

San Diego, which has a 1.73 ERA over the last eight games, hasn't won nine straight since a 10-game run May 15-25, 2009.

The Braves (73-56), who lead the NL wild-card race, seemed poised to end that streak after scoring seven runs each in back-to-back wins over the Giants.

But all they could muster Monday were three singles and a first-inning double from Jason Heyward, a career .379 hitter against the Padres, in their seventh loss in 10 games.

While Atlanta couldn't score in the opener, it hasn't needed much offense for Medlen (5-1, 1.86 ERA), who has a 0.83 ERA in five starts since joining the rotation at the end of July.

Coming off a shutout of the Padres on Aug. 16, Medlen went seven scoreless innings at Washington on Wednesday, striking out seven and giving up seven hits in a 5-1 victory.

"I have to tip my hat to that pitcher," Nationals manager Davey Johnson told the Braves' official website. "He pitched one (heck) of a ballgame. He has a great curveball, he spotted his fastball, he has a great changeup. ... It just reaffirmed what I said earlier: he is one heck of a young pitcher."

The right-hander hasn't allowed a run since the second inning against the New York Mets on Aug. 11. The Braves have won 16 consecutive starts behind Medlen dating back to May 2010.

After an outstanding first outing by Kelly, San Diego will turn to Andrew Werner (1-0, 3.00), who was also solid in his major league debut.

Werner gave up two runs, four hits and overcame four walks over six innings in a 4-2 win over the Pirates on Wednesday.

"It was a lot of fun because he executed,'' catcher John Baker said. "We talked before the game about his emotions and I told him if he felt any butterflies to step off the mound and embrace it."

Chipper Jones went 0 for 3 in his return to the Braves' lineup Monday after sitting out Saturday and being limited to a pinch-hit appearance Sunday because of a strained oblique.

But it's Heyward who's been carrying Atlanta's offense lately. The right fielder has five homers, 12 RBIs and a .446 on-base percentage in his last 13 games.

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