Rockies-Braves Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 03, 2012
Chipper Jones has been a member of 12 playoff teams with the Atlanta Braves, and his solid play has helped them get in position to qualify again in his farewell season. The addition of Kris Medlen to the starting rotation has further benefited the cause. The right-hander seeks to extend his impressive scoreless-innings streak as the Braves host the opener of a four-game series with the Colorado Rockies on Monday. NL wild card-leading Atlanta has been struggling of late and was on the verge of being swept by Philadelphia on Sunday, heading into the ninth trailing by four runs. Jones, who won the World Series as a rookie with Atlanta in 1995, blasted a three-run walkoff homer to give the Braves (75-59) an 8-7 victory. The veteran is hitting a team-high .302 with 14 homers and 58 RBIs in his final regular season. ''He came through again," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's unbelievable.'' Atlanta, which has lost 10 of 15 even with Sunday's win, trails Washington by 6 1/2 games in the NL East. ''This is something I think we need right here,'' Gonzalez said. ''This is something to get the team going again and get the juices flowing again." Medlen has two wins during the Braves' slump, and he's 5-0 with a 0.66 ERA since joining the rotation July 31. He extended his scoreless steak to 28 1-3 innings by scattering five hits in eight innings of Atlanta's 2-0 win Tuesday. ''He's terrific,'' Gonzalez said. "He pitches like he's in the backyard. He's having fun and he goes after hitters and nothing fazes him. We're glad we have him in the rotation.'' Medlen (6-1, 1.71 ERA) said the scoreless streak is a nice bonus, but it's not at the front of his mind. "When you start worrying about stuff like that, that's when you start getting off your plan and off focus," Medlen said. "I just want to stay focused and take it a start at a time, and whatever else cliche I can say.'' Atlanta has won Medlen's last 17 starts, a franchise record, and his shutout streak is the longest by a Braves starting pitcher since Greg Maddux strung together 39 1-3 scoreless innings in 2000. Medlen will look to stay hot against Colorado, which took two of three from San Diego after Sunday's 11-10 victory. Chris Nelson hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning while Dexter Fowler had three hits and added two RBIs for the Rockies (55-77), who have won 10 of 14. ''Everybody is just doing their job," Nelson said. "Everybody is doing what they need to do to get the win at the end of the day." Manager Jim Tracy has been especially impressed with Nelson, who is hitting .333 with six RBIs over his last six games. ''The ball has been on the barrel of his bat regularly lately,'' Tracy said. Colorado, though, has lost nine of 11 meetings with Atlanta, and it will look to Tyler Chatwood to help get the Rockies off to a good start Monday. Chatwood (4-3, 4.81) tossed a season-high 80 pitches while giving up two runs in five innings of an 8-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, improving to 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in six starts since being called up from Double-A Tulsa on Aug. 5. The right-hander was solid in his only career start versus the Braves, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings of a 4-1 win while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels on May 22, 2011.
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