The Atlanta Braves have thrived despite having to overcome an injury-plagued starting rotation, and converted reliever Kris Medlen has played a role in that success.
Medlen will try to produce another strong outing and perhaps bolster his chances of staying in the rotation Saturday night against the New York Mets.Atlanta (65-47) has won 13 of 16, thanks in large part to a 1.76 staff ERA despite having three starting pitchers on the disabled list. Medlen (2-1, 2.37 ERA) has helped by allowing one run in each of his two outings since joining the rotation.Following a win over Miami on July 31, the right-hander struck out a season-high six over 5 1/3 innings but did not get a decision in a 6-1 victory against Houston on Sunday.Those performances could make for a difficult decision if and when Tommy Hanson or Jair Jurrjens returns from injury. Atlanta has won each of Medlen's 13 starts since May 29, 2010."I love (starting)," Medlen told the team's official website. "It's a lot of fun. But if I have to go back to the bullpen when Tommy comes back, I'll be fine with it. I understand the situation."Medlen will try to make that decision even tougher for manager Fredi Gonzalez while helping the Braves add to a six-game win streak over the Mets (54-59), losers of 10 of 11 at home. Paul Maholm held New York to three hits in Friday's series opener, a 4-0 Atlanta victory.Jason Heyward hit his career-high 19th homer and Dan Uggla added a two-run shot, giving him 12 RBIs in his last 11 games.Mets starter Johan Santana (6-7, 3.98) will try to quiet the Atlanta bats as he makes his return from the disabled list. The left-hander hasn't pitched in the majors since July 20 because of a sprained right ankle, and was 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA over his final three starts before landing on the DL.One of those outings was a 6-1 loss at Atlanta on July 15 in which he gave up six runs over five innings. Santana lasted a career-low 1 1/3 innings in a 9-3 defeat in Atlanta on April 17, but pitched five frames of a season-opening 1-0 win over the Braves at home April 5.Santana has a streak of 15 consecutive scoreless innings over his last three home outings against the Braves."I think the rest has been good for him, and hopefully going forward in the next six weeks, we'll see the Johan Santana that we saw in the first few weeks," manager Terry Collins told the Mets' official website.Medlen has no decisions and a 3.38 ERA in two career starts versus the Mets.Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones was scratched from Friday's game because of tightness in his back, which he said via Twitter was caused by his hotel bed in New York. Jones, who is hoping to return Saturday, is 9 for 30 (.300) with one home run in his career against Santana.