Despite miscue, Medlen strong enough to best Mets

Despite miscue, Medlen strong enough to best Mets

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez playfully said he hoped no young children witnessed the play that led Kris Medlen to apologize to previous coaches who had taught him the fundamentals of the game.

But thanks to Chris Johnson's first home run since May 13 and B.J. Upton's first hit of the season with two outs and a runner in scoring position, Medlen was able to laugh about his mental mistake that briefly gave the Mets hope in the Braves' 5-3 win Wednesday night at Turner Field.

"We won and I'm happy," Medlen said. "But I feel like we lost, because I feel like I let that team back in the game when we had them down. I'm not even letting that go. It's going to stick with me for a while."

Medlen was in a pretty jovial mood after he tossed seven-plus innings to help the Braves bounce back from a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Mets on Tuesday. But without Upton's key two-out double and the alert hustle Jordan Schafer displayed in the decisive bottom of the fifth, Atlanta's high-energy pitcher would have been furious about his decision to throw to third base on a comebacker during New York's game-tying three-run top of the fifth.

"In that situation, there's no rhyme or reason to throw the ball to third base there," Gonzalez said. "We got to throw the ball to second base and get two, and if they get a base hit, they score a run with two outs. Believe me, we don't practice that that way."

Staked to a three-run lead courtesy of Johnson's three-run homer off Shaun Marcum in the fourth, Medlen allowed the first two batters he faced in the fifth inning to reach. With runners at first and second, he fielded John Buck's sharp one-hop comebacker. Instead of throwing to second to begin a double play, he threw to third base with the hope of beginning a triple play.

"As the ball hit my glove, it like clicked in my head 'Triple play,' because it was hit so hard and right to me," Medlen said. "[Johnson] was at the [third-base] bag. I babied the throw. It was like yippage. If I made the throw, who knows what would have happened? You just got to take the outs. Just throw it to second base and let the infielders do their thing. Don't let the pitchers touch the ball."

Medlen's throw sailed past third and bounced into left field far enough for both Marlon Byrd and Lucas Duda to score. Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with a game-tying, broken-bat single to shallow right field.

"Can I apologize to any coach I've had in my entire life?" Medlen said. "I haven't even got text messages from the coach who always texts me after games, because he's probably so [mad]. It was like I blacked out; I woke up and the ball was in left field. I was like, 'Oh my God.'"

To his credit, Medlen limited the damage to the three runs -- one earned -- that scored with the assistance of his brain cramp. He totaled 44 pitches through the first four innings and entered the fifth having retired 11 straight batters.

"Other than that play, I felt like I was in control," Medlen said. "I was jumping ahead of guys and pitching to both sides of the plate. Any time I can do that, I can have some success."

Schafer began the bottom of the fifth with a double and moved to third base on Andrelton Simmons' sacrifice bunt. With third baseman David Wright positioned near second base as the Mets utilized a defensive shift against Brian McCann, Schafer took a big lead off third and alertly broke toward the plate when Buck was unable to control Marcum's pitch in the dirt.

Schafer's quick instincts enabled him to slide head-first across the plate with the decisive run, despite the fact the ball trickled barely into the grass to the right of the plate.

"He's a heads-up player, and good for him," Gonzalez said. "You need to be heads-up, but you need to have some speed. If I was 30 feet from him, I wouldn't be able to score."

Upton chased Marcum and provided an insurance run when he capped the two-run fifth with a double to right field. Upton entered the game hitting .103 with runners in scoring position and had gone hitless in his previous 28 at-bats with two outs and RISP.

With his fourth two-hit game this month, Upton improved his batting average to .173, which stands as his highest mark of the season. He has batted .255 with a .897 OPS in June.

"He's swinging it," Gonzalez said. "Any time you see balls getting hit to the opposite field, line drives from either a right-hander going right-center or a left-hander going to left-center, those are good swings, and it was nice to see that."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.