The addition of Kris Medlen to the starting rotation has further benefited the cause.
The right-hander seeks to extend his impressive scoreless-innings streak as the Braves host the opener of a four-game series with the Colorado Rockies on Monday.
NL wild card-leading Atlanta has been struggling of late and was on the verge of being swept by Philadelphia on Sunday, heading into the ninth trailing by four runs.
Jones, who won the World Series as a rookie with Atlanta in 1995, blasted a three-run walkoff homer to give the Braves (75-59) an 8-7 victory. The veteran is hitting a team-high .302 with 14 homers and 58 RBIs in his final regular season."He came through again," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's unbelievable."
Atlanta, which has lost 10 of 15 even with Sunday's win, trails Washington by 6 1/2 games in the NL East."This is something I think we need right here," Gonzalez said. "This is something to get the team going again and get the juices flowing again."
Medlen has two wins during the Braves' slump, and he's 5-0 with a 0.66 ERA since joining the rotation July 31. He extended his scoreless steak to 28 1-3 innings by scattering five hits in eight innings of Atlanta's 2-0 win Tuesday."He's terrific," Gonzalez said. "He pitches like he's in the backyard. He's having fun and he goes after hitters and nothing fazes him. We're glad we have him in the rotation."
Medlen (6-1, 1.71 ERA) said the scoreless streak is a nice bonus, but it's not at the front of his mind."When you start worrying about stuff like that, that's when you start getting off your plan and off focus," Medlen said. "I just want to stay focused and take it a start at a time, and whatever else cliche I can say."
Atlanta has won Medlen's last 17 starts, a franchise record, and his shutout streak is the longest by a Braves starting pitcher since Greg Maddux strung together 39 1-3 scoreless innings in 2000.
Medlen will look to stay hot against Colorado, which took two of three from San Diego after Sunday's 11-10 victory.
Manager Jim Tracy has been especially impressed with Nelson, who is hitting .333 with six RBIs over his last six games."The ball has been on the barrel of his bat regularly lately," Tracy said.
Colorado, though, has lost nine of 11 meetings with Atlanta, and it will look to Tyler Chatwood to help get the Rockies off to a good start Monday.
Chatwood (4-3, 4.81) tossed a season-high 80 pitches while giving up two runs in five innings of an 8-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, improving to 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in six starts since being called up from Double-A Tulsa on Aug. 5.
The right-hander was solid in his only career start versus the Braves, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings of a 4-1 win while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels on May 22, 2011.
|August 22, 2012||Dexter Fowler||Day-to-Day||Left game - right ankle injury|
|August 20, 2012||Eric Young||15-Day DL||Left intercostal strain|
|August 19, 2012||Michael Cuddyer||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|August 19, 2012||Josh Rutledge||Day-to-Day||Left game - left quad tightness|
|August 14, 2012||Drew Pomeranz||Day-to-Day||Chest soreness|
|August 06, 2012||Todd Helton||60-Day DL||Torn labrum, right hip|
|August 25, 2012||Ben Sheets||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 10, 2012||Chipper Jones||Day-to-Day||Back tightness|
|August 01, 2012||Jair Jurrjens||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|July 31, 2012||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|July 31, 2012||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|July 20, 2012||Matt Diaz||15-Day DL||Right thumb surgery - out for season|
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Braves say their spring training decision to have Kris Medlen start the season in the bullpen was based on the right-hander's innings limit in his return from elbow surgery.
That decision has allowed Medlen to emerge as the most dominant starter on the staff in the most important part of the season.
Medlen struck out a career high 12 to win his sixth straight decision and lead Atlanta to a 6-1 win over the Colorado Rockies on Monday.
Medlen (7-1) allowed five hits without a walk in his second complete game of the season.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Medlen had the same innings limit as Washington's Stephen Strasburg .
Strasburg has thrown 156 1-3 innings and has only two more starts. Medlen has thrown only 104 innings and will be available if the Braves, the NL wild-card leader, make the playoffs.
"It was all limits to innings," Gonzalez said Monday when asked about the decision on Medlen's role. "It was basically the number that Strasburg is facing right now, 160 to 170, because they both were coming off the Tommy John surgery.
"Where do we want that 160 to 170 to end? Do we want it to end in October or do we want it to end in August?"
Medlen extended his streak of scoreless innings to 34 2-3 - the Braves' longest since Greg Maddux in 2000 - before the Rockies scored an unearned run in the seventh. He threw 111 pitches, including 85 strikes.
"He was terrific," said Colorado manager Jim Tracy . "And he's been terrific for a while.
"He had three pitches for strikes whenever he wanted them. Unfortunately, with the way he's been throwing the ball, we pretty much put him in a rocking chair right from the outset."
Medlen appeared in 38 games in relief before moving into the rotation on July 31. He is 6-0 with a 0.54 ERA in seven starts. He spent most of 2011 on the disabled list recovering from elbow ligament-replacement surgery on Aug. 18. 2010.
Medlen was 5-0 as a starter in 2010. The Braves have won his last 18 starts.
Medlen said adding a curveball as a starter has been "huge."
"You can just attack guys so differently with an extra pitch, an effective pitch, too," he said. "I got a couple strikeouts with it."
Medlen said he is glad he doesn't have to worry about an innings limit, but he noted pitching in relief "was not easy on your arm."
"You're not throwing as many innings, but you're getting up and warming up just as much as anybody," he said. "I love the starting part because you can get four days to prepare your arm."
David Ross hit a two-run double in Atlanta's four-run third inning.
Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood (4-4) gave up six runs, five earned, in only three innings. Chatwood allowed only three hits but was hurt by five walks, matching his career high.
Chatwood loaded the bases with three walks in the third. Martin Prado drove in Michael Bourn with a flyball to centerfield. Juan Francisco 's single drove in Jose Constanza . Ross added a two-run double for a 6-0 lead.
Two walks and a wild pitch by Chatwood and two errors on one play by first baseman Jordan Pacheco helped the Braves score two runs in the first. After walks to Bourn and Freddie Freeman , Bourn scored from third on a wild pitch. Prado hit a sharp grounder off Chatwood's left leg. Pacheco couldn't handle Chatwood's throw to first base, and Pacheco then made a wild throw to third base for another error, allowing Freeman to score.
Prado was awarded a hit on the play in a scoring change after the game.
A throwing error by shortstop Paul Janish helped the Rockies score an unearned run in the seventh inning, the first run allowed by Medlen since Aug. 11.
Carlos Gonzalez singled and scored from first when Janish dove for Pacheco's grounder and threw wild to second base for an error. Pacheco advanced to third on his single and Janish's error, but Medlen struck out Tyler Colvin and Chris Nelson to end the inning.
Medlen's streak of scoreless innings was the longest for a Braves pitcher since Maddux did not allow a run in 39 1-3 consecutive innings from Sept. 2-28, 2000.
Prado made his second straight start at second base. Gonzalez has benched All-Star Dan Uggla , who is hitting only .208.
NOTES: Pacheco has a 12-game hitting streak. ... Medlen's previous career high was nine strikeouts. ... RHP Randall Delgado , recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett, will pitch out of the Braves' bullpen. The Braves announced after the game RHPs Julio Teheran and Cory Gearrin will join the team on Tuesday. ... C Brian McCann , who had a cortisone shot in his right shoulder after Saturday's game, missed his second straight start. ... Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki , on the 15-day DL with a groin injury, played as a DH on Monday with Triple-A Colorado Springs and is scheduled to play shortstop with Double-A Tulsa Wednesday and Thursday. ... Braves RHP Tommy Hanson will try for his 13th win against Colorado LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-8) on Tuesday night.