The St. Louis Cardinals haven't been swept on the road all season and haven't been swept in Atlanta in more than 10 years.
St. Louis (62-39) leads the league with 496 runs but has scored one through the first two games of this set. The Cardinals' six hits over consecutive games are their lowest total for an offense batting an NL-best .275.
Yadier Molina 's second-inning homer in Friday's 4-1 defeat has been followed by 16 scoreless innings at the plate. Julio Teheran and two relievers combined on a two-hitter in Atlanta's 2-0 victory on Saturday.
The Cardinals have dropped four straight in the regular season at Turner Field, where they won 6-3 in last year's NL wild-card playoff - a loss that still stings for the Braves.
"They're a great team," shortstop Andrelton Simmons said. "They got us last year in a pretty big game. We owe them some. It's good to see this team beating them."
Medlen (6-10, 3.78 ERA) was the starter for Atlanta (59-45) in the wild-card defeat, allowing five runs - two earned - over 6 1-3 innings. He gave up a homer to Matt Holliday - activated off the disabled list Saturday - in his first start of any kind versus St. Louis.
The right-hander has posted an 8.59 ERA in dropping three straight starts for the first time in his career.
Medlen has received two total runs of support during his slide. His average of 3.40 is one of baseball's lowest marks.
He will be opposed by Shelby Miller (10-6, 2.77), who has never faced the Braves. The Cardinals were happy with Miller after the 22-year-old returned from a 12-day break with six scoreless innings in Tuesday's 4-1 home win over Philadelphia.
Miller had given up 10 earned runs in 12 2-3 innings over his previous three starts.
"The biggest thing for me was to clear my head and get back to where I need to be," Miller said. "I just relaxed and threw out there. I got some time away, got time to work on some mechanics and get things straightened away."
Now the right-hander will try to improve on the road, where he has a 4.07 ERA compared to a 1.74 mark at home.
Atlanta is in position for its first three-game home sweep of St. Louis since April 22-24, 2003, but the Braves' offense has actually produced fewer extra-base hits in this series. The Cardinals have five and Atlanta four.
One of those hits for the Braves was Simmons' two-run double in the eighth inning Saturday. Chris Johnson is 4 for 6 in this series for Atlanta.
The Cardinals' Carlos Beltran is hitless in his last 11 at-bats and 1 for 9 overall against Medlen. Molina's homer Friday is his only hit in his last 10 at-bats, while fellow MVP candidate Allen Craig has gone hitless in three straight games for the first time in 2013 with nine empty at-bats.
This series features four of the league's top hitters in Molina (.332), Johnson (.332), Craig (.329) and Matt Carpenter (.321).
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|July 02, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck/back|
|May 26, 2013||John Gast||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tightness|
|May 26, 2013||Carlos Beltran||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder soreness|
|May 25, 2013||John Gast||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shoulder tightness|
|July 25, 2013||Tim Hudson||15-Day DL||Fractured right ankle|
|July 21, 2013||Paul Maholm||15-Day DL||Left wrist contusion|
|July 13, 2013||B.J. Upton||15-Day DL||Right adductor strain|
|July 11, 2013||Jason Heyward||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right hamstring|
|July 04, 2013||Jordan Schafer||15-Day DL||Right ankle contusion|
|July 02, 2013||B.J. Upton||Day-to-Day||Left game - left forearm spasms|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Jason Heyward might be staying in the leadoff spot.
Heyward homered and drove in two runs to help the Atlanta Braves beat St. Louis 5-2 on Sunday night, capping their first three-game sweep of the Cardinals at home in 10 years.
Heyward hit leadoff for the second straight night and only the third time this season. He has nine homers, including two in the series between NL division leaders.
"I'm getting more comfortable in general," Heyward said. "The more you move, it is hard to get comfortable."
When he moved Heyward to the leadoff spot on Saturday, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he was "just tinkering." After Sunday night's game, Gonzalez said he's sticking with Heyward atop the lineup "right now, the way we set up."
Gonzalez said the "common denominator" in the three-game sweep was dominant starting pitching.
Following strong starts by Mike Minor and Julio Teheran , Kris Medlen (7-10) allowed two runs on eight hits and a walk in six innings to snap his three-game losing streak.
The three wins came after Tim Hudson , the leader of the staff, sustained a season-ending broken right ankle Wednesday night in New York.
"Nobody needs to be Huddy," Gonzalez said. "Nobody needs to be the ace or that kind of label. Believe me, I'm going to fight that the next two months when we're pitching well. Collectively, I think, as a unit you circle the wagons, you go out there and you get those three performances that we had."
The Cardinals, who lead the NL in batting average and scoring, were held to three runs in the series.
"Obviously, going in we had confidence that we could control their lineup, but knowing the kind of lineup that they have, I'm trying to avoid saying that we were surprised they scored only three runs in the series," Medlen said. "I just think it's how good we are as a staff and as a bullpen. Mike Minor and Julio did a great job and I just wanted to continue that."
The Cardinals aren't accustomed to such meager offense.
"Their guys threw well," manager Mike Matheny said. "I think we probably weren't as locked in as we've been a good portion of this season either, so that makes for a tough combination."
The Braves broke a 2-all tie with two runs in the sixth inning off rookie Shelby Miller (10-7) and two relievers. Pinch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich drove in Chris Johnson with the go-ahead run. Heyward added another run-scoring single.
Miller allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks in 5 2-3 innings.
The Cardinals were swept in a road series for the first time this season.
"You never want to go into a place and get swept," Miller said. "We were battling the whole time. I don't think we had a terrible series, we just didn't come out on top in any of the games."
The Braves finished their first three-game sweep of the Cardinals at Turner Field since April 2003.
Atlanta relievers Luis Avilan , Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel combined for three scoreless innings. Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth to take the NL lead with his 31st save.
Johnson singled with two outs in the second, moved to third when the ball bounced past Carlos Beltran in right field for an error, and scored on a single by Andrelton Simmons . Heyward's line-drive homer to the front row in right field pushed the lead to 2-0 in the third.
The Cardinals pulled even with two runs in the fifth. Back-to-back doubles by Pete Kozma and Miller produced the first run.
With two outs, Beltran hit a fly-ball single to left field that fell between Evan Gattis and Simmons, who sprinted into the outfield from his shortstop position. Gattis, a natural catcher, was playing deep for the power-hitting Beltran and was slow to break on the ball.
The Braves' two-run sixth began with two outs. Johnson, who entered the night tied with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina for the NL lead with a .332 batting average, singled for his second hit and moved to third on Simmons' second single. Terdoslavich and Heyward followed with run-scoring hits.
Johnson added his third hit, a double, off Fernando Salas in the eighth to push his average to .338. Reed Johnson reached on an infield single, and Chris Johnson scored on a throwing error by Kozma from shortstop.
Reed Johnson pulled up with an apparent injury after running to first and was replaced by pinch-runner Jose Constanza .
The Braves made two strong defensive plays. Simmons went to his right, falling to his knees, to snag a grounder by David Freese before throwing to second to start a double play in the second. Freddie Freeman leaned over the railing in front of the Atlanta dugout to catch a foul popup by Matt Holliday to end the eighth.
NOTES: Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said the team is "not close to doing anything" before Wednesday's trade deadline. Mozeliak said he is reluctant to trade prospects "for short-term gain." ... Molina had two hits, leaving his average at .334. ... The Braves' last three-game sweep of the Cardinals was May 11-13, 2012, in St. Louis. ... Braves RHP Brandon Beachy , returning from Tommy John surgery, will make his first start of the season Monday night when he faces Colorado's Jorge De La Rosa. The Cardinals open an important NL Central series at Pittsburgh when Jake Westbrook faces Francisco Liriano .