The Atlanta Braves came into their series with the Washington Nationals hoping to make up ground in the NL East. Instead, they have fallen two more games off the pace as their season-long struggles in this matchup have continued.
The Braves now hope that Kris Medlen has a little more magic left in his right hand as tries to help his club avoid its longest losing streak in three months in the finale of a three-game series on Wednesday evening.
Atlanta has lost the first two games of this set to drop seven games behind Washington for first place in the division. The Braves do still hold the first of two NL wild card spots despite losses in four straight.
Medlen could spark a turnaround as he has gone 3-0 with a 1.05 earned run average in four starts since joining the rotation. He has given up just three runs over 25 2/3 innings in that span and is coming off a five-hit shutout of the San Diego Padres on Thursday.
The right-hander struck out six and did not walk a batter, moving to 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 42 total appearances this season.
"That was super cool," Medlen said following his first career complete game. "I had some balls squared up pretty good, but it was just luck of the draw that they were right at people."
The 26-year-old will make his first career start versus the Nationals after going 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA in nine relief encounters.
The Braves try to avoid the sweep after getting shut down by the Nats' Stephen Strasburg in Tuesday's 4-1 loss. Strasburg gave up a run over six innings, striking out 10 to win his fourth straight start.
Washington, meanwhile, improved to 10-4 versus Atlanta this season with its 16th victory in 20 games overall.
"The job isn't finished. It's still August," Strasburg said of the seven-game division lead. "We're still focused, we're still trying to win as many games as we can, so we got another opportunity (Wednesday)."
Jesus Flores hit a three-run homer and Ian Desmond added a solo shot for the Nationals.
Freddie Freeman knocked in the lone run for the Braves, who are now trying to avoid their longest skid since dropping eight straight from May 21-28.
"We have to take care of our business and come in tomorrow and expect to win," said starter Paul Maholm, who yielded four runs over seven innings of the loss.
Ross Detwiler aims to pitch Washington to the sweep and is coming off Friday's 6-4 win over the New York Mets. The 26-year-old southpaw hurled six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk.
Detwiler is 7-5 with a 3.25 ERA in 25 games this season (19 starts) going 6-1 with a 2.69 ERA at home.
He is 2-0 with a 3.62 ERA lifetime versus the Braves, beating them on July 22 after giving up two runs -- one earned -- in seven frames.