Braves go after 10th straight win in opener with Royals

The Atlanta Braves go after their 10th consecutive win on Tuesday when they open a brief two-game series against the Kansas City Royals at Turner Field.

Atlanta sent a message to the entire league this weekend with a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals. In Sunday's finale, Paul Maholm struck out seven over 7 2/3 innings of four-hit ball, as the red-hot Braves rolled to a 9-0 win.

Maholm (3-0) issued just one walk in his third straight stellar outing, as the crafty left-hander has yet to allow a run over 20 1/3 innings this season.

Andrelton Simmons stroked a three-run homer, Justin Upton added a solo shot and two runs scored, and Chris Johnson collected four hits and two RBI for the Braves, who have won nine straight and are off to their best start (11-1) since opening the 1994 season 13-1.

"It was good to make a statement early," Simmons said of sweeping the reigning NL East champions. "Let them know we're going to be tough to beat. That was a great win for us."

Atlanta has swept three straight series for the first time since sweeping four in April 2000, which was part of a 15-game winning streak from April 16-May 2. It hasn't won 10 consecutive games since then.

"It���s early," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I don't think we're going to play .998 baseball the rest of the way, but it sure is better than 1-11."

Hoping to keep the Braves rolling on Tuesday will be righty Kris Medlen, who is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA. Medlen picked up his first win of the season last Tuesday in Miami, as he surrendered just three hits and unearned run in seven innings.

Medlen didn't get a decision in his only other start against the Royals, who are off to an impressive start of their own.

Kansas City is off to an impressive start of its own, as it is tied atop the American League Central standings at 7-5. However, the Royals lost two of three over the weekend to the Toronto Blue Jays, but salvaged Sunday's finale in dramatic fashion, as Alex Gordon delivered the winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 3-2 win.

Chris Getz set the table for Gordon when he stroked a one-out double against Toronto reliever Darren Oliver (0-1). Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson each had two hits for Kansas City, which had won six of seven before dropping the first two games of this series.

"I just wanted to be aggressive and (Chris) Getz did a great job of getting into scoring position," said Gordon. "I tried to take a good swing, put the barrel on the ball and make something happen."

Royals starter Ervin Santana didn't factor into the decision, but was strong over eight innings, yielding two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts. Kelvin Herrera (1-0) picked up the win with a perfect ninth.

Getting the call for the Royals on Tuesday will be righty Jeremy Guthrie, who is 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA. Guthrie beat the Minnesota Twins last Tuesday, but was not sharp, as he allowed four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Guthrie, who lost his only other start to the Braves, has won seven straight decisions dating back to Aug. 8, 2012, and he's posted a 2.37 ERA over those 13 outings. The Royals have won 12 of those 13 starts.

Atlanta has won four of its six all-time matchups with the Royals.