Braves lean on streaking Medlen vs. Padres

Kris Medlen is looking to round into form ahead of a likely postseason run for the Atlanta Braves, who continue a three-game set on Saturday night with the San Diego Padres.

Medlen has had his bumps along the way during the 2013 campaign, going 13-12 with a 3.46 earned run average in 29 games (28 starts), but has won three straight and seven of his last nine starts.

The righty, who won just one time through 11 starts in April and May, extended his personal win streak with a 5-2 decision over Miami on Monday. He gave up two runs on six hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings with six strikeouts.

"It's pretty fun to look back and see that I started 1-6 and kind of turned things around," Medlen said. "I'm not the one scoring the runs, and they had a huge inning for me today. It's kind of what's gotten me to this point this year."

Medlen, 27, is 2-2 with a 1.33 ERA in six career games versus the Padres, including two starts.

While Medlen figures to be a contributor for the Braves in the playoffs, Robbie Erlin is trying to factor into the Padres' plans for 2014.

The 22-year-old is 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA in eight appearances this year, with each of the last six outings starts.

Erlin lost both of his starts in July before recording a win in Arizona on Aug. 28 with six innings of one-run ball. The southpaw then pitched well versus San Francisco in his last start on Sept. 3, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 frames while striking out five.

Erlin, who has never faced Atlanta, went 8-3 with a 5.07 ERA in 20 games with Triple-A Tucson this year.

The Braves remained winless versus the Padres this season by losing Friday's opener 4-3.

Justin Upton hit a solo homer in the fourth inning and Brian McCann followed in the frame with a two-run shot, but the Padres rallied for two runs in both of the seventh and eighth innings to win for the fifth time in seven games.

Jesus Guzman and Chris Denorfia drove in runs in the seventh and Chase Headley tied the game with a solo homer to begin the eighth. Logan Forsythe later smacked a two-out, pinch-hit single that drove in Tommy Medica for the winning run.

"I thought our guys just kept battling, having good at-bats. I felt like we kept the pressure on," Headley said.

Atlanta's bullpen spoiled an excellent debut by David Hale, who yielded four hits and a walk over five scoreless frames and 87 pitches. He also struck out nine to set a franchise record in a major league debut.

"Hale was outstanding," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He was right out there at 90 pitches and that's what we targeted."

Atlanta, though, lost for the sixth time in nine games and its magic number to clinch the NL East remained at six.

The Padres swept a three-game set from the visiting Braves back in June, but lost three of four in Atlanta a season ago. They were outscored 19-5 in that set at Turner Field.