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Marlins-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

Having bolstered their starting rotation with a deal before the deadline, it remains to be seen what the Atlanta Braves plan to do with Kris Medlen going forward.

Medlen, though, is scheduled to make his first start in two seasons as the Braves try to match their longest winning streak of the year Tuesday night in the second of four with the visiting Miami Marlins.

After reportedly coming close to acquiring Ryan Dempster last week, Atlanta (58-44) completed a different deal with the Chicago Cubs on Monday, acquiring left-hander Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson in exchange for two minor leaguers.

''We got two real key fits for us,'' general manager Frank Wren said. ''If we are done, if nothing else transpires tomorrow, we will be real happy with where we are.''

Wren said Maholm may join the team in Atlanta on Wednesday. Johnson is expected to join the team on Tuesday.

Despite that trade, the Braves still plan to give the ball to Medlen (1-1, 2.48 ERA) in this game.

The right-hander has allowed one run over 10 relief appearances spanning 16 1-3 innings this month. He went 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts in 2010, with the Braves winning 13 of those games - including each of his last 11 starts.

"I'm really excited, don't get me wrong, but a lot of things can change," Medlen, who's expected to be limited to around 70 pitches Tuesday, told MLB's official website. "It's just a matter of getting my pitch count up and all that, I think that's the biggest hurdle for me. Especially in August in Atlanta, getting up to 100 pitches."

Medlen is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career appearances - two starts - against the Marlins (47-55). He most recently struck out five over three scoreless innings during Wednesday's 7-1 win at Miami.

The Braves have had their way with the Marlins of late, posting their seventh win in eight meetings Monday with an 8-2 victory. Jason Heyward hit his third homer in five games and scored a season-high three runs while Michael Bourn, Dan Uggla and pinch- hitter Juan Francisco all drove in two.

The Braves' sixth consecutive win moved them a season-high 14 games above .500 and into a first-place tie in the NL wild-card standings. Atlanta, which won a season-best seven straight July 5-15, also sits 3 1/2 games behind East-leading Washington.

"I think this is the homestand where we can really put some pressure on first place," Chipper Jones said. "The bottom line is to keep winning."

The Braves have to like their chances of keeping things going with a matchup against Ricky Nolasco (8-9, 4.80) in store. The right-hander, who's compiled a 7.56 ERA in dropping each of his last three starts, is trying to avoid losing four in a row for the first time in his career.

Nolasco was tagged for six runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings Wednesday, giving up two-run homers to Bourn and Francisco.

"He was off, very off. The stuff wasn't there," manager Ozzie Guillen said of Nolasco, who dropped to 0-3 with a 7.04 ERA over his last four starts against Atlanta.

Nolasco can't be looking forward to facing Brian McCann, who's gone 18 for 52 in their matchups with six homers - the most he's allowed to any player.

Medlen, meanwhile, will need to be wary of Jose Reyes, who's batting .343 during a 17-game hitting streak. The speedy shortstop doubled twice, drove in a run and stole his 25th base Monday.

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