The Atlanta Braves continue to strike out at an alarming rate.
Shawn Marcum isn't known as a strikeout pitcher, but even he had a career day in that category against the Braves a few weeks ago.
A day after struggling to put the ball in play against the New York Mets ' pitching phenoms, Atlanta takes on the winless Marcum and looks to avoid losing a series at home for the first time all season Wednesday night.
The Braves (42-30) have struck out 645 times, leading the NL by a wide margin. They had 24 on Tuesday, with 20 coming from young starters Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler as the Mets swept a doubleheader. Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson each struck out three times on the day, Dan Uggla had two to run his league-high total to 89 and Justin Upton added his 82nd - third-most in the NL.
"It's just been a rough last 24 hours," said B.J. Upton, who has 75 strikeouts.
It will be a bad 48 hours if Atlanta loses this one, especially considering it would mark the team's first series loss at Turner Field since dropping two of three to Philadelphia from Aug. 31-Sept. 2. Monday's 2-1 win in the opener of this four-game set was the 16th victory in 19 home games for the Braves, who are a major-league best 24-10 at home.
Marcum (0-8, 5.43 ERA), meanwhile, has fanned just 47 batters in 54 2-3 innings this year. However, the seven-year veteran posted his career high of 12 on May 26 against Atlanta, including three of Freeman. Marcum allowed a two-run homer to Uggla but only three other hits in seven innings of New York's 4-2 victory.
Of the right-hander's 10 appearances - eight starts - this season, the only two times New York won came versus the Braves. He's 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA in five career games against them. Johnson and Jason Heyward are each 1 for 12 against him with a combined 12 strikeouts.
Marcum pitched eight innings of one-run ball in relief in a 2-1, 20-inning loss to Miami on June 8, but followed that with a poor start Friday against the Cubs as he was tagged for six runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-3 loss.
"Shaun is a professional. He knows you've got to go out and get the job done," manager Terry Collins said. "He just got off to a bad start. I'm sure he wishes he could take a couple pitches back."
Marcum, who has received just 12 runs of support in eight starts this season, is hoping New York's late offensive outburst Tuesday carries into Wednesday. The Mets (27-40) tacked on four runs in the eighth inning to help secure a 6-1 victory in the nightcap, their highest-scoring game since June 5. The Mets finished with 14 hits, ending a streak of nine straight games with nine or fewer.
The Mets will be hard-pressed to repeat their success against Kris Medlen (3-7, 3.09), who has been dominant against New York. He's never lost in 16 games versus the Mets, posting a 1.92 ERA, and is 3-0 in six starts against them. He struck out a season-high nine in six innings against the Mets on May 24, allowing three runs in a 7-5, 10-inning victory.
After recording one win in 11 starts through May, Medlen won his first two this month before losing Friday. The right-hander yielded four runs and nine hits in six innings of a 6-0 defeat to San Francisco, receiving no runs of support for the fourth time in seven starts.
|New York Mets|
|June 18, 2013||Scott Atchison||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore groin|
|June 17, 2013||Justin Turner||15-Day DL||Intercostal strain|
|June 08, 2013||Matt Harvey||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|May 30, 2013||Jonathon Niese||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|May 30, 2013||Ruben Tejada||15-Day DL||Right quad strain|
|May 29, 2013||Ruben Tejada||Day-to-Day||Left game - quad injury|
|June 18, 2013||Evan Gattis||15-Day DL||Oblique strain|
|May 29, 2013||Kris Medlen||Day-to-Day||Left game - left upper calf contusion|
|May 18, 2013||Eric O'Flaherty||15-Day DL||Left elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 13, 2013||B.J. Upton||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left shoulder contusion|
|May 12, 2013||Jordan Walden||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|May 12, 2013||Jordan Walden||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Kris Medlen issued a blanket apology to every coach he's ever had.
At least he could laugh about an inexplicable defensive blunder.
Medlen shook off a Little League-like mistake with seven strong innings, Chris Johnson hit a three-run homer and the Atlanta Braves bounced back from a doubleheader sweep, beating the New York Mets 5-3 Wednesday night.
Johnson went deep in the fourth for his first homer since May 13. Jordan Schafer put the Braves ahead to stay with some gutsy baserunning in the fifth, scoring on a wild pitch that didn't even roll off the dirt around home plate.
Atlanta evened the five-game series after losing twice on Tuesday.
Medlen (4-7) was still trying to figure out what he was thinking in the top half of the fifth.
With a 3-0 lead thanks to Johnson, two runners aboard and no outs, the right-hander got just what he wanted - a grounder right back to the mound.
An easy double play, right? Not so fast.
For some reason, Medlen whirled and threw to third - apparently thinking triple play - but the ball skipped past the bag and rolled toward left field. Instead of getting two outs, both runners came around to score.
"It was like I blacked out, and when I woke up, the ball was in left field," Medlen said. "It's one of those plays that as you're making it, you're like, `What the hell are you doing?"'
Manager Fredi Gonzalez wondered the same thing as he watched the play unfold.
"I hope no kids were watching that," he said. "I've never seen that before. Maybe in 10-and-under baseball, but I don't think I've seen that play - ever. Believe me, we don't practice that."
Medlen bounced back from the miscue, giving up six hits and only one earned run, while striking out seven. He didn't walk anyone and even picked up the first stolen base of his career in the sixth. He had the bag in his locker after the game, a souvenir to help him forget that other play.
"We won, so I'm happy," he said. "But it feels like we lost."
Shaun Marcum (0-9) knows that that feels like. He became just the third pitcher in Mets history to start a season dropping nine straight decisions.
"Balls are not falling his way. We haven't given him run support, either," catcher John Buck said. "It's just not going real well for him. When I'm back there, I feel like we're in control of everything. It's always just one mistake or that one inning that seems to bite him."
The Braves scored first with two outs in the fourth. B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla hit back-to-back singles, and then Marcum left a 2-0 pitch over the plate to Johnson. He drove it into the left-field seats, slapping hands emphatically with first-base coach Terry Pendleton on his way around the bases.
"It felt good. Not just the homer, but hitting it with guys on base," Johnson said. "I like to drive guys in."
Medlen gave the runs right back in the fifth. Marlon Byrd led off with a single and Lucas Duda was plunked, putting two runners aboard to set up the baffling throw to third. Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with a bloop single just inside the right-field line to bring home Buck with the tying run.
"I deserved that," Medlen said.
The Braves quickly reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Schafer led off with a double and advanced on Andrelton Simmons ' sacrifice before Freddie Freeman walked. It looked as if Marcum might escape the jam when he struck out Justin Upton . But a pitch to Brian McCann bounced off Buck's chest protector, rolling off to the catcher's right.
Schafer was nearly halfway down the line already - the Mets shifted their defense against McCann, leaving only third baseman David Wright on the left side of the infield - and the runner broke for home as soon as he saw the ball get away. Even though it rolled only to the edge of the grass and Buck made a quick flip to Marcum covering home, Schafer slid headfirst under the tag.
"Great instincts," Gonzalez said.
B.J. Upton followed with an RBI double that gave the Braves a two-run cushion, finishing off Marcum. He surrendered six hits and walked four in 4 2-3 innings.
Medlen pitched into the eighth, coming out after giving up a bloop single to pinch hitter Josh Satin leading off the inning. Luis Avilan got Mets newcomer Eric Young Jr. to hit into a double play, and Craig Kimbrel struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances.
Marcum's start is the worst for a Mets pitcher since Anthony Young lost his first 13 decisions in 1993 on the way to a 1-16 record. The only other pitcher in New York history to begin a season with as many as nine consecutive losses was Bob Miller , who started 0-12 in 1962 before winning his final decision with the woeful expansion Mets.
"It's been a three-month ordeal for me," Marcum said.
NOTES: Young started in center field and led off for the Mets, less than 24 hours after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies . He singled on the second pitch of the game and finished 1 for 4. ... B.J. Upton had two hits and a walk. ... The Mets placed RHP Scott Atchison back on the disabled list after he injured his right groin while warming up for an appearance Tuesday night. He had just come off the DL for an ailing elbow, but didn't even make an actual pitch before getting hurt again.
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