Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By CORY McCARTNEY  |  Last updated 9/9/13
After four straight losses -- including three in Philadelphia where they scored a total of eight runs -- the Braves were in dire need of a breakout offensively. The got it, scoring five runs in the fourth inning as they backed Kris Medlen's gem to blank the Marlins 5-2 Monday to cut the magic number to eight. Here are three observations from Atlanta's victory. 1. It's not his historic run, but Medlen is quietly dominating By the end of May, Kris Medlen was 1-6 and hadn't won a game since April 9. He had a 3.48 ERA and a 48-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Not bad, but certainly not the stuff of the next great Braves pitcher, which many saw in the tea leaves after 12 starts with a 0.97 ERA to end 2012. But of late, the Medlen of old -- or at least one resembling the massive expectations placed on him this offseason -- has returned and at the perfect time with the postseason just weeks away. Through six shutout innings Medlen didn't give up a hit to anyone not named Chris Coughlan -- he tagged Medlen for singles in the first, third and sixth -- and allowed five base runners in all, with no one advancing past second base. He found trouble in the seventh, giving up a double to Juan Pierre and single to Adeiny Hechavarria before Ed Lucas scored them both with a one-out double. He would be the last batter Medlen would face, but in yielding six hits in 6 13 innings with six Ks and two walks, Medlen (13-12) improved to 6-2 in his last eight starts with a 2.77 ERA and 49-to-8 K:BB ratio. He did miss out on his 10th straight start without more than one BB, keeping him from becoming the first Braves player to do so since Greg Maddiux in 2001. But there is this tidbit that remains in Medlen's corner: in 43 starts when given a lead, he is now 26-3, with 14 no decisions. 2. Gattis continues to feast on fish As part of that fourth-inning outburst it was Evan Gattis that started the scoring, following Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman with a two-run double,the Braves' third straight two-bagger. For El Oso Blanco, it was the continuation of two truths: one recent and one that we've seen all season long. In going 1-for-4, Gattis kept up his torrid run since his three-day stint with Triple-A Gwinnett, hitting .333.857.363 with three home runs -- including the longest of the season at 486 feet -- two doubles and five RBI. He also is feasting on the Marlins -- enter the visual on the bear snagging fish out of a stream here -- with 10 hits in 24 at-bats (.416) and six of those hits have been of the extra-base variety with three doubles and two HRs. 3. Walden appears close to a return and Avilan's no doubt happy about that Out the past few weeks with a sore groin, Jordan Walden will complete a bullpen session at Marlins Park on Tuesday, putting him that much closer to reclaiming his spot as a setup man -- and taking some of the workload off Luis Avilan in the process. Walden hasn't pitched since Aug. 21 vs. the Mets and tweaked his groin while running before a game in St. Louis just after a two-game series in New York. He attempted to thrown off a mound last week but stopped five pitches in due to discomfort. If the mound session goes well, he could return after one more round of bullpen work. Without Walden, the Braves had ridden Avilan, the left-handed setup man. He has allowed a run in four of 12 appearances, a rough run considering he didn't yield one earned run in 35 games from May 24-Aug. 14. Avilan appeared in his third game in four days Monday, giving up a hit to Coughlan before striking out Donovan Solano and Christian Yelich. The Braves' best weapon against lefties -- his .172 batting average against is better than Walden (.179) or Craig Kimbrel (.239) -- it's a amount of work manager Fredi Gonzalez certainly doesn't want him carrying with the playoffs so close.
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