Braves host Nats in meeting of playoff hopefuls
(Sports Network) - In what could be a possible playoff preview, the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals will collide Friday in the opener of a three- game series at Turner Field.
The Braves are 8 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Nationals and were just swept in three games at Milwaukee. The brooms were busted out by the Brewers in Wednesday's 8-2 decision in which Braves starter Paul Maholm allowed eight runs -- six earned -- and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.
"They hit two balls really hard there and that did me in," Maholm said. "But, if you give a hot team extra outs, they're going to make you pay. That inning just went their way, the entire way. We just have to shake this off."
Jason Heyward homered and Freddie Freeman had a team-high two hits for the wild card-leading Braves, who were swept after winning five in a row.
Atlanta has a good shot at taking the opener of Friday's series with Kris Medlen scheduled to take the hill. The NL's Pitcher of the Month for August, Medlen is 8-1 with a 1.64 earned run average in 46 games (8 starts).
The Braves have won Medlen's last 19 starts, including an 11-3 drubbing of the New York Mets last Saturday. Medlen held the Mets to a pair of runs and four hits in six innings, one start after going the distance and striking out 12 versus Colorado.
Medlen, who is 7-0 as a starter, is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 games, one of which was a start, against Washington. The right-hander threw seven shutout innings in a 5-1 win at Washington on Aug. 22.
The last Major League team to win at least 19 straight starts by one pitcher was the 2001 New York Yankees, who won 20 starts in a row by Roger Clemens. Atlanta won 15 straight games started by John Smoltz in 1996.
Washington is coming off a three-game sweep of the Mets and recorded a 2-0 win in Wednesday's series finale. John Lannan, making his first start as Stephen Strasburg's replacement in the rotation, hurled five scoreless innings for the win and Drew Storen got the final out for his second save.
Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond both homered in the win, Washington's 12th in the past 15 tries.
"You can't take anyone lightly in this league," Zimmerman said. "For us to come in here and our guys throw the ball the way they threw the ball, score some runs and get out of here with three wins was good for us."
Ross Detwiler draws the start for the Nationals and he'll try once again to reach double digits in wins for the first time in his career. Detwiler is 9-6 with a 3.23 earned run average in 29 games (23 starts) and is 3-1 in his previous four decisions.
Detwiler did not record a decision in last Saturday's 7-6 win versus Miami and was reached for five runs -- three earned -- in five innings. He lost to the Braves on Aug. 22, when he allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings of a 5-1 loss. In 10 career meetings (7 starts) with the Braves, the left-hander is 2-1 with a 3.59 ERA.
Washington has owned Atlanta this season to the tune of a 10-5 mark, including a 5-1 ledger at Turner Field.
09/14 10:41:23 ET