JJ's quality start not enough against Medlen

JJ's quality start not enough against Medlen

JJ's quality start not enough against Medlen
MIAMI -- Up against one of the premier pitchers in the game, the Marlins needed more than a quality start on Wednesday night.

Josh Johnson had to battle, and he did, scratching out six innings while allowing three runs. But with Kris Medlen dealing for Atlanta, Johnson needed some run support, which wasn't there.

Medlen stayed hot and cooled off the Marlins by throwing eight scoreless innings in the Braves' 3-0 win in front of 25,998 at Marlins Park.

Dating back to 2010, the Braves have won 21 straight times that Medlin has started. This year, the right-hander is 8-0 with a 0.76 ERA in 10 starts.

"I think we pitched well, but Medlen pitched better," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Wow, he put on a show out there, to be honest. Everything was working for him."

The Marlins ended up dropping two of three to the Braves, and they finished their homestand at 3-3.

Medlen's string of success is humbling to the 5-foot-10 right-hander.

"It's awesome," he said. "My wife told me, there's been people who told me about who I'm being talked about with -- Whitey Ford. I mean, let's go. Come on. Don't even say it. I think it's just kind of happened that way where they go to battle for me and I go to battle for them and it's just kind of worked out. Just take it a game at a time. I haven't gotten ahead of myself, and I'm just trying to take it a game at a time."

Johnson minimized damage over six innings, and he had his fourth straight quality start -- no more than three earned runs in at least six innings. But the right-hander fell to 8-13 on the season.

"First three innings, I was all over the place," Johnson said. "They were fouling balls off, getting deep into counts."

Wednesday was Chipper Jones' swan song playing the Marlins in Miami. The Braves star was honored pregame and presented a gift of high-end fishing gear.

When the game started, Jones replied by doing what he's done throughout his career -- collect big hits against Miami. He had a single in the third inning that helped set up Atlanta's second run.

In the eighth, Jones' final plate appearance at Marlins Park, the slugger received a standing ovation. In appreciation, he tipped his helmet before tapping out to second against A.J. Ramos.

"Very nice by Miami fans," Guillen said. "Very nice. Very classy. They appreciate the way Chipper plays baseball. They appreciate the way Chipper went about his business. I think that is bigger than the gift. He's not going to forget that moment. It was coming from other fans, even though there was a few Atlanta fans here."

At age 40, Jones continues to be a force in the lineup. But the veteran did make a mental mistake in the third inning, forgetting how many outs there were. Thinking there were two outs, he ran on Freddie Freeman's sacrifice fly to left field, and he was thrown out trying to get back to first base.

"That happens with age," Guillen joked.

Michael Bourn set the table for Atlanta in the first inning. The speedster capped a seven-pitch at-bat with a double to the gap in left-center. Playing for the quick lead, Martin Prado's sacrifice bunt moved Bourn to third, and he scored on Jason Heyward's sacrifice fly to center.

"I'd get a couple of guys 0-2, 1-2, and let them back in," Johnson said. "You can't do that with that guy on the mound right now."

Johnson endured some more trouble in the second inning, giving up another run. A leadoff walk to Dan Uggla came back to haunt the Miami right-hander. Uggla stole second and scored on Jose Constanza's two-out RBI single to center.

Through two innings, Johnson's pitch count was at 45. And in the third inning, the Braves tacked on yet another run. Again, a walk was a factor. Johnson issued a free pass to Prado, who moved to third on Jones' single to left field. Freeman's sacrifice fly made it 3-0.

The Marlins had their chances in the first two innings off Medlen, who was able to execute the pitches necessary. Gorkys Hernandez singled and stole second and third in the first inning, but Greg Dobbs grounded out to second to end the inning. And in the second, Rob Brantly doubled with one out, but he was left on second.

Brantly extended his hitting streak to nine games.

Off on Thursday, the Marlins begin their final road trip on Friday at New York. They carry a 66-84 record into their last swing away from Miami.

"It's hard to believe we're going on the road trip not fighting for the pennant race," Guillen said. "When we built this ballclub, we thought these next six games would be very fun. We did not get to where we wanted to get. It's very unfortunate, very sad. We're very embarrassed. But we've got to continue to play."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.