NEW YORK — Kris Medlen’s streaks for innings without allowing a homer or an earned run ended Saturday, but not before the Braves were well on their way to another Medlen win.
Brian McCann had four hits and four RBIs, and Medlen pitched six strong innings before leaving after a rain delay in an 11-3 win against the Mets at Citi Field, the Braves’ fourth in a row and sixth win in seven games.
Long-slumping Dan Uggla, who proclaimed “I’m back” after hitting a double and home run in Friday’s 3-0 win, added three hits and two walks Saturday as the Braves won for the 19th consecutive time in games started by Medlen (8-1), extending a franchise record.
“It felt like it was the first time in a while that I actually made an impact on the game, so it felt good,” said McCann, who’d batted .155 with two RBIs in 24 games since July 31. “You get [Uggla] clicking and myself clicking, and we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
The Braves’ Medlen winning streak is the longest in one pitcher’s starts by any team since the 2001 Yankees won 20 consecutive starts by Roger Clemens. Medlen has won his past six starts and is 7-0 with a 0.81 ERA in eight starts since moving from the bullpen.
“I definitely wasn’t as crisp as I was in the past however many starts, but six innings and two runs, you can’t really argue with that,” said Medlen, who allowed four hits, two runs — the most he’s allowed as a starter this season — and two walks with three strikeouts. He didn’t return following a 75-minute rain delay before the seventh inning.
The National League’s Pitcher of the Month for August also chipped in with a two-out RBI double over the center fielder’s head during the Braves’ four-run third, which gave them a 5-0 lead. The inning started with a Jason Heyward double and featured a two-run double by McCann, his first extra-base hit in 85 at-bats the end of July.
McCann didn’t wait long for his next, a two-run homer in the fifth. The catcher had twice as many RBIs Saturday as in his previous 24 games combined. He’s played with a frayed labrum and cyst in his right shoulder.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told McCann earlier this week that he felt like the catcher was a lot closer to getting back in a groove than McCann himself believed. The catcher recently got a second cortisone shot in his shoulder.
“I keep telling you guys, I think sometimes you think I’m crazy, but I’ve been encouraged,” Gonzalez said. “We’re such a results-oriented society that if it’s not 2-for-4 or 3-for-4, people look at you like your crazy. But the at-bats have been good for Mac, and Danny’s at-bats have been better. Now they’re getting results.”
McCann said, “It’s just a fine line with me. Once I got the second shot, it calmed it down a lot more to where I feel like I can do more with the bat and hit the proper way and I’m hoping to continue and keep it going.”
He’s feeling better physically, and McCann said a game like Saturday was also good for his confidence.
“It’s huge,” he said. “It been a rough year for sure. I’m hoping to help this team down the stretch and into the postseason.”
Eric Hinske also had a pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning for the Braves, who scored more than twice as many runs Saturday as they had in their previous four games combined (five), and reached double-digit runs for the first time since a 12-6 win at Philadelphia on Aug. 8.
Lucas Duda’s one-out RBI single in the fourth inning snapped Medlen’s streak of 40 1/3 innings without an earned run, and Atlanta’s overall pitching scoreless streak at 31 innings. His 53-inning homerless streak ended on Ronny Cedeno’s solo shot in the fifth, after the Braves led 7-1.
Medlen had a scoreless streak of 34-2/3 innings snapped when he gave up an unearned run in a five-hit, 12-strikeout complete game against Colorado on Monday in his last start. That was the longest scoreless streak by a Braves starter since Greg Maddux’s 39-1/3 innings in 2000.
Mets right-hander Jeremy Hefner was charged with eight hits and five runs in 2-2/3 innings, the briefest start for the Mets since Johan Santana went 1-1/3 against the Braves on Aug. 11. The Braves are 9-1 in their past 10 games against the Mets.
The Braves started the third inning with three singles, including a bunt by McCann to the left side to beat the defensive shift many teams use against the pull hitter. That snapped an 0-for-17 stretch for McCann, and Jose Constanza followed with a run-scoring single off Hefner’s glove, the Braves’ first RBI hit with a runner in scoring position since Monday.
After going 4-for-38 with runners in scoring position in their previous five games, then 1-for-7 in the first two innings Saturday, the Braves went 5-for-14 in those situations the rest of the game.
After hitting .145 with five homers in a 69-game stretch through Aug. 27, Uggla is 10-for-31 with three homers in his past 10 games.
“[McCann and Uggla] are two huge guys in our lineup, and we need them,” Medlen said. “We need them to win. So it’s definitely awesome to see.”