WASHINGTON — Kris Medlen pitched seven shutout innings in his latest winning performance and Martin Prado’s two-run double proved decisive to help the Braves end a four-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
Medlen (5-1) allowed seven hits while striking out seven and walking one in his fifth start of the season. The Braves have won 16 consecutive starts behind the right-hander dating back to May 2010.
More importantly, Atlanta salvaged the three-game divisional series finale and halted the Nationals three-game winning streak. The Braves, who entered the day atop the National League wild-card chase, moved within six games of the NL East leading Nationals.
Coming off a shutout in his last outing, Medlen extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings. Since entering the Braves rotation on July 31, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA.
For the first time in five games the Braves offense scored more than two runs. Prado’s fifth-inning double gave the Braves an early 2-0 lead. After the Nationals cut the lead in half in the eighth, the Braves pulled away with three runs in the ninth.
The National scored an unearned run against the Braves bullpen after Medlen exited following 103 pitches. Bryce Harper opened the eighth with an opposite field single against reliever Eric O’Flaherty, and took second on left fielder Reed Johnson’s bobble. After moving to third on Ryan Zimmerman’s ground ball out, Harper scored on Michael Morse’s single. O’Flaherty walked Adam LaRoche, but avoided further damage by inducing Ian Desmond into a double play.
With two outs in the fifth inning and Tyler Pastornicky on first base, Ross Detwiler walked his counterpart Medlen. Up stepped Prado, who laced a 2-2 slider toward centerfielder Harper. The rookie initially broke in on the liner which sailed over his head. Both runners scored on the double, Prado’s second of the game.
Two of the Braves three ninth-inning runs against Nationals reliever Tom Gorzelanny were unearned. Dave Ross’ sacrifice fly scored Chipper Jones and Michael Bourn’s pinch-hit RBI single plated Freddie Freeman. Bourn later stole third base and advanced home on a throwing error by Suzuki.
The Nationals had opportunities against Medlen with the best coming in the sixth. Jayson Werth opened the inning with a double to left as Prado’s attempt at a diving catch came up short and the ball rolled to the wall. One out later, Ryan Zimmerman singled and Medlen walked Michael Morse , loading the bases.
The 26-year-old Medlen hung tough, getting Adam LaRoche out on a foul pop to first base and Ian Desmond with a grounder.
With runners on the corners against Medlen in the second, Kurt Suziki hit a grounder through the box, but with Danny Espinosa running on the pitch, Braves second baseman Pastoricky moved as well and was perfectly positioned to start a 4-3 double play.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth in a non-save situation.
The Nationals, who matched a franchise record on Tuesday by extending their division lead to seven games, maintain a 10-5 series lead over the Braves this season. The two sides wrap up their regular season meetings September 14-16 in Atlanta.