The Atlanta Braves have powered their way to their largest division lead in a decade.
Perhaps the NL East leaders can carry over some of that offense to a Kris Medlen start.
The right-hander will try to guide the visiting Braves to an eighth consecutive victory in Friday night's series opener against the slumping Philadelphia Phillies .
Led by two homers and five RBIs from Justin Upton and a seventh consecutive multi-hit game from NL batting leader Chris Johnson , Atlanta (64-45) capped a perfect seven-game homestand with Thursday's 11-2 victory over Colorado. The Braves moved 11 1/2 games in front of idle Washington, a first-place cushion they last had on Sept. 21, 2003."I feel like this is the best I've seen us play consecutively so far," shortstop Andrelton Simmons said.
While Atlanta is batting .336 with 7.3 runs per game since its last defeat, it hasn't been doing much to back Medlen (7-10, 3.74 ERA), who has a team-low 3.53 run-support average.
The Braves had scored three total runs in Medlen's previous three starts - all losses - before a 5-2 win over St. Louis on Sunday when he threw six innings of two-run ball.
Medlen hasn't been at his best in two starts against the Phillies (50-58) this season, compiling a 6.97 ERA while losing each time.
The Braves, who plated three total runs in those starts, have scored seven times in three losses to Philadelphia this season compared to 29 in their three wins.
The Phillies moved a game above .500 by winning their first contest after the All-Star break, but they're 1-10 since after Thursday's 2-1 loss to San Francisco. Jonathan Papelbon blew his sixth save in his last 13 chances, and Philadelphia wasted a bases-loaded, no-out chance in the bottom half of the ninth."I want to preserve these wins for the starters," Papelbon said. "Some nights you just scratch your head."
The Phillies will try to regroup with Ethan Martin making his major league debut. The 24-year-old right-hander, 11-5 with a 4.12 ERA at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, is taking the spot of Cliff Lee (sore neck).
"I want to come up here and show what I got and prove to them that I can be here," Martin, who was acquired in last season's deal that sent Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, told the Phillies' official website. "If Cliff comes back and it's my time to go back down, I want to show to them and put it in the back of their heads whenever they need somebody else."
The Athens, Ga., native has some extra motivation by facing the team he grew up supporting.
"I don't really think it's set in yet," Martin said. "Hopefully, it doesn't until afterward. But, we'll go from there, walk out on the mound and see how it goes."
It hasn't gone well for pitchers facing Johnson, who can tie a Braves record with an eighth consecutive multi-hit game. The last to accomplish this feat was Hank Aaron from September 9-17, 1959, when the team was based in Milwaukee.
Johnson, who has hit safely in 10 straight to raise his batting average to .346, is 6 for 19 with a homer off Phillies pitching in 2013.
The Braves dropped two of three in their only visit to Philadelphia this season from July 5-7.
|July 29, 2013||Reed Johnson||15-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|July 25, 2013||Tim Hudson||15-Day DL||Fractured right ankle|
|July 21, 2013||Paul Maholm||15-Day DL||Bruised left wrist|
|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 26, 2013||Cliff Lee||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|July 24, 2013||Domonic Brown||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 24, 2013||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Concussion|
|July 14, 2013||Joe Savery||15-Day DL||Left elbow stiffness|
|July 14, 2013||Ben Revere||15-Day DL||Broken right foot - out 6-8 weeks|
|July 13, 2013||Ben Revere||Day-to-Day||Broken right foot|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Patience helped the Atlanta Braves keep their winning streak going.
After the Braves couldn't take advantage of a bases-loaded opportunity in the fourth inning, they used a five-run fifth inning, including consecutive homers from Brian McCann and Chris Johnson , for their eighth straight victory, 6-4 over the Phillies.
"Everything's a run," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You get a good run of hitting or you get a good run of pitching - seems like our good run of pitching has been really consistent the whole year. But you see some guys with some good approaches, good at-bats, keep the lineup moving."
McCann's two-run shot gave the Braves a 4-2 lead just two batters after Justin Upton tied it on an RBI single.
"(It was) just a mistake pitch," Phillies rookie Ethan Martin (0-1) said on McCann's homer. "They'll make you pay for mistakes."
Johnson extended his hitting streak to 11 games with his seventh homer to make it 5-2. He also had a seventh-inning double to extend his streak of multihit games to eight games. It is the most for any Braves player since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966.
"I'm trying not to think about it really," Johnson said. "I'm trying to keep my same approach every single day, try to come in tomorrow do my exact same routine."
Kris Medlen (8-10) earned the victory, going six innings while giving up six hits and four runs, including three solo homers. He struck out eight and walked one.
Darin Ruf , Delmon Young and Chase Utley homered for Philadelphia, which has lost 11 of 13 since the All-Star break.
David Carpenter struck out the Philadelphia side in the seventh, Jordan Walden fanned two in the eighth and Craig Kimbrel got two in the ninth for his NL-best 32nd save.
After Martin escaped the fourth, he struggled in the fifth and got just one out before leaving the game. He allowed six runs and eight hits overall.
"We were trying to be patient the first time around, try to get him to throw his fastball, but he was pretty darn good the first couple innings," Gonzalez said. "Then I think the second time around the lineup we had a better look at him. But that young man is going to be successful."
Ruf gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the second inning when he sent a full-count fastball into the left-field bleachers for his third home run of the season.
On the next pitch, Delmon Young hit one out to right to make it 2-0.
Jason Heyward got the Braves on the board with an RBI single in the third.
Utley homered and Cody Asche added an RBI groundout in the sixth to close out the scoring.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and shortstop Jimmy Rollins were ejected in the ninth inning arguing an apparent foul tip by Young that was called strike three.
"I saw it or I wouldn't have gone out there," Manuel said. "It hit the ground. The umpire at first said he saw him catch it. ... I wasn't going to come back to the dugout embarrassed."
Notes: Ruf has reached base in 30 straight games, going back to last season - the longest active streak in the majors. He's hit .310 over that span, with 15 of 31 hits going for extra bases. ... Over his 11-game hitting streak, Chris Johnson has gone 21 for 44 and raised his average to .347. ... Philadelphia placed rookie RHP Jonathan Pettibone (5-4, 4.04 ERA) on the 15-day disabled list prior to the game with a right shoulder strain. The Phillies also designated RHP J.C. Ramirez for assignment and promoted RHP Zach Miner from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... Curt Schilling , who spent eight-plus seasons of his 20-year career with the Phillies, was inducted into the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame prior to the game. ... John Lannan (3-4, 4.10 ERA) will start Saturday for Philadelphia on three days' rest. Lannan has never pitched on short rest in his career. ... Brandon Beachy will go for Atlanta on Saturday, making his second start back following Tommy John surgery. ... Cliff Lee , scratched from his last start with a stiff neck, will take the mound Sunday for the Phillies.