That doesn't mean runs will be easy to come by Tuesday night.
After consecutive 2-0 losses to open a weekend series in Milwaukee, Atlanta (44-33) salvaged the finale with Sunday's 7-4 victory. Chris Johnson and Jordan Schafer hit solo homers after Brian McCann 's first-inning grand slam ended the Braves' 24-inning scoreless stretch."Games like this, they say hitting is contagious," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Hopefully, it catches a couple of guys and keeps going."
Justin Upton , the team leader with 15 home runs, has two hits in his last 15 at-bats, but he's questionable after missing two games with a sore hand.
"If we don't have to use him, we won't use him," Gonzalez told the Braves' official website.
With Santana (5-5, 2.64 ERA) on the hill, Upton might benefit from getting another day off. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.94 ERA in four June starts after throwing seven innings of one-run ball in last Tuesday's 4-3 loss at Cleveland.
It was Santana's seventh consecutive start in which he's pitched at least seven innings. However, he's 2-3 during that stretch as Kansas City (35-38) has plated three runs or fewer four times.
"We don't have to think about that," Santana told the Royals' official website. "Every time we take the mound, we have to do our best and trust our bats. You just try to make it simple. Trust our teammates, try to play hard and know that things aren't going our way right now, but it's going to turn around."
The Royals are hoping that's the case after back-to-back homers by George Kottaras and Jarrod Dyson in the fifth inning led the way in Sunday's 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Kansas City had nine total runs while losing its previous four.
"For us to pull out that victory later in the game shows our resiliency," said right fielder David Lough , who went 3 for 4.
Butler didn't face Medlen (4-7, 2.96) in a 6-3 loss to Atlanta on April 16 - the Braves' 10th consecutive victory - while Gordon, Perez and Cain went a combined 2 for 10 off the right-hander. Medlen gave up a solo homer to Chris Getz and one unearned run over seven innings before Atlanta scored four in the eighth.
Medlen improved to 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four outings this month with seven-plus innings in Wednesday's 5-3 home win over the New York Mets . He allowed three runs, but just one was earned due to his throwing error.
"Other than that play, I felt like I was in control," Medlen told the Braves' official website.
Atlanta will become the final NL team to play in Kansas City, where the Royals have won eight of 11 after a franchise-record 11-game skid.
|June 18, 2013||Evan Gattis||15-Day DL||Oblique strain|
|June 17, 2013||Ramiro Pena||15-Day DL||Right shoulder impingement|
|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|
|Kansas City Royals|
|May 16, 2013||Jarrod Dyson||15-Day DL||Right ankle sprain|
|May 16, 2013||Jarrod Dyson||15-Day DL||Right ankle sprain|
|March 31, 2013||Danny Duffy||60-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|February 12, 2013||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Kris Medlen is perfectly happy throwing crisp, pinpoint 89-mph fastballs, especially if the alternative is to throw 100-mph heat while living on the edge.
That would be the life of Braves closer Craig Kimbrel .
Both of them did their duty on Tuesday night in Atlanta's first visit to Kansas City. Medlen outpitched the Royals' Ervin Santana to position himself for the win, and Kimbrel survived a shaky ninth to preserve a 4-3 victory in the opener of their two-game series.
"You know how stressful it is trying to locate 89 every pitch?" Medlen deadpanned. "It's not very fun, but it's a tough skill to do. It's why I'm hanging around."
Why he's excelling, too. Medlen (5-7) improved to 4-1 in June. The victory wasn't without drama once he left the game, though.
Jordan Walden had to pitch around a leadoff walk to get out of the eighth inning, and Kimbrel got into the same trouble in the ninth. But he did one worse, allowing a single to David Lough and letting him swipe second base to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with nobody out.
Kimbrel recovered to strike out Elliot Johnson and Jarrod Dyson , and then intentionally walked Alex Gordon to load the bases for Alcides Escobar . He flied out to right on the first pitch he saw to end the game, giving Kimbrel his 11th straight save and 22nd of the season.
"Whenever you walk the leadoff batter in a one-run ballgame," he said, "it puts you in a sticky situation, but we were able to work out of it."
Jason Heyward drove in a pair of runs with a double in the fifth, and then broke a seventh-inning tie with his solo shot off Tim Collins (2-2). It was his sixth homer of the season.
Eric Hosmer hit a two-run homer in the fifth for the Royals.
"We had a lot of opportunities," Johnson said. "We didn't make the most of them."
In a curious twist to interleague play, the Royals had played 142 games against NL teams at Kauffman Stadium without a visit by Atlanta. If not for last year's All-Star Game at the K, longtime Braves third baseman Chipper Jones would have retired having never played in the park.
Their debut wound up being dominated by pitching.
The Royals scratched out their first run off Medlen in the first when Alex Gordon reached on a single, took second on an error and went to third on a sacrifice bunt. But he was caught in a rundown on a grounder by Hosmer, who reached second before Gordon was tagged out.
Hosmer scored on Billy Butler 's ensuing single.
That was all the Royals would muster off Medlen until Escobar managed a two-out single in the fifth. The resurgent Hosmer followed with his tying two-run shot over the right-field wall, his fourth home run of the season but third in 10 games.
It proved to be timely, too, coming just after the Braves pulled ahead.
Ervin Santana had struck out five through the first three innings, but began running into trouble the second time through the Braves' power-packed lineup. But it wasn't home runs that gave them the lead, but a series of singles and doubles.
Chris Johnson led off the fifth with a double, and Andrelton Simmons put runners on the corners with his base hit. Jordan Schafer tied the game 1-all on his double, and Heyward's double down the right-field line gave the Braves a 3-1 lead.
"I felt very good the whole game," Santana said. "I just missed a couple of pitches, and they made good adjustments on them."
Heyward didn't hit his double particularly hard. The homer off Collins was crushed.
Heyward greeted a 0-2 pitch from the Royals' diminutive left-hander with a ferocious swing, sending the ball soaring over the wall in right field and giving the Braves a 4-3 lead.
"I was just looking for a pitch in the zone to hit," he said. "Looking for a pitch in the zone to hit right there and try not to miss it. Put a good swing on it."
A good enough swing to give Kimbrel a chance to create some ninth-inning drama.
"It's not the way you draw it up," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the living-on-the-edge save, "but we'll take it."
Notes: The Braves began the day with 96 homers, tied with Colorado for first in the National League. They're now 41-9 when they hit a homer and 4-23 when they do not. ... Braves OF Justin Upton was the DH after missing two games with a sore right hand. ... The Royals recalled LHP Will Smith and optioned RHP Kelvin Herrera to Triple-A Omaha. ... LHP Mike Minor pitches for the Braves on Wednesday night. RHP Luis Mendoza goes for the Royals on Wednesday night.