Kris Medlen fulfilled a lifelong dream with his effort on the mound and at the plate in his most recent start last weekend.
The right-hander will now try to put the Atlanta Braves' nightmare road trip behind them as he takes the hill on Friday evening for the opener of a three- game series with the San Francisco Giants.
Medlen has won back-to-back outings following a nine-start winless drought (0-5) before finally returning to the win column on June 3 after giving up one unearned run over seven innings of a 7-2 triumph over Pittsburgh.
Five days later, the Los Angeles native took on the hosting Dodgers and scattered five hits over 6 2/3 scoreless frames. He also connected on the first home run of his major league career to factor in on both ends of a 2-1 win.
"For the most part I controlled the walks and attacked the strike zone. For me to hit my first home run in Dodger Stadium is great. I dreamed of this as a kid," said Medlen, who improved to 3-6 with a 2.87 earned run average in 13 starts this season.
The 27-year-old now hopes to secure his first career victory over the Giants, who he is 0-3 against with a 4.67 ERA in seven meetings, including two starts. That includes a loss this season at San Francisco on May 12 as he was reached for five runs -- three earned -- over 5 1/3 innings. Medlen walked five and served up home runs to Brandon Belt, Pablo Sandoval and Marco Scutaro, though the latter two are sidelined with injury.
The Braves are set to play their next eight at home following a 2-5 road trip that concluded with a three-game sweep at the hands of the San Diego Padres. Paul Maholm was unable to salvage the series finale on Wednesday, giving up four earned runs over 5 2/3 frames of a 5-3 loss, his first setback since may 11.
Justin Upton knocked in two of Atlanta's runs with a single and a solo homer, with Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman also finishing with two hits in the setback. Heyward is batting .396 (17-for-43) over a 10-game hitting streak.
"That's the way baseball is sometimes, you run into a hot team and you don't get any breaks," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez remarked. "I'm really proud of our club the way they kept battling."
Madison Bumgarner certainly battled the last time he faced the Braves and looks to deal the club a fourth straight setback tonight.
Bumgarner lost his first three career decisions versus the Braves before picking up a home victory against them on May 11. The left-hander gave up just a run over seven innings and fanned 11 in the 10-1 triumph.
"He throws his cutter into righties and makes righties feel uneasy," Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson said of facing Bumgarner. "Then he throws his two- seamer away and his slider. His changeup was good. With a guy like that, you can't really do too much."
Bumgarner went on to go winless over his next four starts (0-3) before beating the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday. The 23-year-old held Arizona scoreless over five innings before getting charged with three runs in the sixth, a frame in which he did not retire any of the three batters he faced.
Still, Bumgarner moved to 5-4 with a 3.58 ERA in 13 starts this season.
The Giants avoided getting swept in three games at Pittsburgh to begin this week, winning Thursday's finale 10-0.
Pitching on the one-year anniversary of his 2012 perfect game versus the Houston Astros, Matt Cain hurled 6 2/3 scoreless innings of two-hit ball, moving to 5-1 over his last eight starts.
"He gave us what we certainly needed," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "Matt (Cain) has been on a good roll from his last start, this start, he's throwing the ball really well."
Hunter Pence hit a three-run homer, while Gregor Blanco and Buster Posey each drove in two runs for the Giants.
The Giants won three of four at home over the Braves from May 9-12 and have won seven of the last 11 meetings overall.