LOS ANGELES – The sizzling Braves have their longest winning streak in a decade, and a pair of Southern California natives played major roles in helping extend it to nine games Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.
Kris Medlen sailed through seven innings and Troy Glaus hit his fourth homer in five games, then the Braves hung on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 and extend the streak to nine wins.
It was a potentially costly win for the Braves, who watched reliever Takashi Saito hobble off the field in the ninth inning with a left-hamstring injury. The 40-year-old setup man hopes to avoid the disabled list, but if he's not doing better in a few days the Braves would probably DL him.
Cox conceded the possibility of going without Saito was a concern. "Any time you lose a guy like that -- this guy is huge for us," he said.
Said catcher Brian McCann: "He's been a big part of our success. Hopefully it's nothing serious and he can get back sooner than later."
Otherwise it was another encouraging night for the first-place Braves, who stretched their winning streak to nine, their franchise's longest since an Atlanta-record 15-gamer in April-May 2000.
"Good, we'll try to beat it," Cox said, lighting up a postgame cigar in the cramped visiting manager's office.
The Dodgers scored three runs in the eighth on four singles against Medlen and reliever Peter Moylan, before Eric O'Flaherty struck out Braves nemesis Andre Ethier with a runner at third.
Medlen, pitching in front of some friends, cousins and his former high-school baseball coaches, was charged with three runs (two earned) and six hits with no walks and four strikeouts. It was the best of nine career starts for the right-hander, who's filled in ably for injured starter Jair Jurrjens.
Medlen is 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in his past 11 games, including five starts.
"Me and Mac [catcher Brian McCann] were on the same page the entire game," said the right-hander, who has compiled a 3.20 ERA and 2-o record while making four consecutive starts. "I felt something in the bullpen when I was warming up, something with my alignment.
"I was staying behind my curveball a lot better today. I thought that pitch was big for me, because my last few starts it's just been fastball-changeup. Just gives me another weapon to use. I got a couple of strikeouts with it."
Dodgers manager Joe Torre said was asked about Medlen's first start at Dodger Stadium.
"Very impressed," he said. "Very impressed with the number of strikes he threw. He located very well. That fastball/change-up combination gets it off the fat of the bat. It was pretty impressive."
Saito left with two outs and two strikes in the ninth against Russell Martin, and rookie Jonny Venters recorded his first save by striking out Martin on one pitch, a slider.
Glaus hit his 10th homer and drove in two runs to tie for the National League lead with 42.
The National League's Player of the Month in May, Glaus has powered the offense and helped the Braves win 14 of 16 games and eight of their past 10 road games. He has eight homers and 33 RBIs in 31 games in May and June, with four homers and 15 RBIs in a current nine-game hitting streak.
"He's been unbelievable," McCann said. "I mean, he has been unbelievable hitting in the middle of the order for us. He's been everything we could ask for. And he's been great over at first base, too. [Glaus is a converted third baseman.] He's picked up that position so quick.
"He's playing like an All-Star. He's been an All-Star [in the past]. He's done it all."
Medlen didn't limit his contributions to pitching. He also had a walk and drove in a run with a double, the first double and first RBI of his career.
The young pitcher had a three-hit shutout until the eighth, when Medlen gave up three hits to the first four batters, including a broken bat single and an infield hit.
"Medlen was just outstanding," Cox said. "The eighth inning was kind of a crazy inning for him – one off the end of the bat by third [base], a two-hopper, and where was the other one? Another ball we couldn't make a play on in the infield. He gave up one line drive. And Ethier hit the other ones, one to left and one to right. Two balls hit hard all night."
Moylan entered with bases loaded and gave up a Ronnie Belliard single through the right side. Two runs scored on the play, the second coming home on Jason Heyward's throwing error.
Rafael Furcal followed with a groundout that drove in the third run, and Matt Kemp drew a walk. O'Flaherty was called to face Ethier and struck him out to keep the lead at 4-3.
The Braves are 24-8 since ending a nine-game losing streak on April 30, the best record in the National League over that stretch. At the one-third mark of the season, they already have nine-game losing and winning streaks.
They shared that distinction before Thursday with the Dodgers, who had had been 23-8 in that same period before snapping a four-game winning streak Thursday in the opener of a four-game series at Dodger Stadium.
Glaus had an RBI single in the first inning led off the fourth with his fourth home run in five days, a towering shot to left field off Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda.
"Glaus hit one a mile high that had some cloud dust on it," venerable Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said on-air.
Nate McLouth added an RBI double in the inning to give the Braves a 3-0 lead.
If Philadelphia's Raul Ibanez hadn't robbed Glaus of a homer with a catch above the wall on Wednesday, Glaus would have home runs in five consecutive games.
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