Medlen over .500 as Braves top Marlins

Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Kris Medlen, who started his season 1-6, is finally over .500 for the first time this year.
Medlen carried a shutout into the seventh inning Monday night, and the Atlanta Braves held on to defeat the Miami Marlins 5-2 at Marlins Park.
"When you look back at starting 1-6 -- I'm not done yet -- but it's pretty fun to look back and see that I kind of turned things around," said Medlen (13-12). "I felt like I had three good pitches today. I threw more four-seamers than usual. (The Marlins) are a contact-hitting team. They have some pesky guys who foul off a lot of pitches. I took advantage of the (big) park, and I felt like I was in control."
Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 45th save of the season, the most in the majors. He also has 35 saves in a row, the longest streak in Braves history.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he was going to use Kimbrel on Monday night whether it was a save situation or not. The manager explained that Kimbrel needed the work after going five days without pitching.
Atlanta got all five of its hits and all five of its runs in the fourth inning.
In fact, the final 15 Braves batters went down in order -- all against the Miami bullpen.
Still, Gonzalez was pleased.
"We put up a crooked number (in the fourth)," he said. "Then we made it stand up. Medlen was terrific. And our bullpen cleaned things up."
The Marlins finally got to Medlen in the seventh when pinch hitter Juan Pierre doubled to right and Adeiny Hechavarria singled to left. After Rob Brantly struck out, Ed Lucas hit a two-run double to center, ending Medlen's night.
"Lucas has been a thorn in our side this year," Gonzalez said.
Lefty reliever Luis Avilan came in and allowed a single to Chris Coghlan but got out of the jam by striking out Donovan Solano and Christian Yelich, both swinging.
Medlen allowed six hits, two walks and two runs in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six in extending his personal-best, single-season win total.
The Braves, who had not managed a hit in the first three innings, busted loose in the fourth. The inning started with three straight doubles, including a two-run double by Evan Gattis.
"Evan is a big bat in the middle of our lineup," Gonzalez said of Gattis, who hit two homers Sunday against the Phillies, including one blast that went 486 feet for the longest shot in the majors this year. "He deserves to play."
Chris Johnson and Elliot Johnson added RBI singles, and the fifth run scored on Henderson Alvarez's wild pitch.
"I left too many pitches up in that inning," Alvarez said.
Alvarez (3-4) lasted just four innings, allowing the five runs on five hits and three walks. His ERA rose from 3.95 to 4.34. It was his second-shortest outing of the season and tied his worse mark for runs allowed this year.
"We're in a bit of a rut with our starting pitching," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "This is the third night in a row that our starter hasn't gotten past the fifth inning."
NOTES: Coghlan tied a career high with four hits. ... Pierre's double gave him career hit No. 2,213, which puts him in 176th place all-time. He is two hits shy of tying Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio. ... Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis left the game due to a right-thumb contusion and is listed as day-to-day. He was replaced by Brantly. ... Monday marked the start of a four-game series between the Braves, who have the best record in the National League, and the Marlins, who have the worst. ... It's expected that star Marlins rookie RHP Jose Fernandez will pitch his last game of the season Wednesday. ... Braves RF Jason Heyward (broken jaw) is set to resume baseball activities Friday. ... Braves 2B Dan Uggla, who had started 11 straight games, was rested for the start of Monday's game. He entered as a defensive replacement. ... Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton (ankle sprain) took batting practice Monday and could return to the lineup Tuesday. He has missed two straight starts. ... Marlins RHP Jacob Turner might have his Friday start pushed back to give him extra rest. The 22-year-old already has pitched 164 innings this year between the Marlins and Triple-A New Orleans. ... The Braves' Elliot Johnson stole a base Monday night and has not been caught this season -- 17 for 17.

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