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Erlin pitches well but Padres fall to Braves 2-1

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CHARLES ODUM | September 14, 2013 11:16 PM EST | AP


ATLANTA — San Diego manager Bud Black says every start is an opportunity for young left-hander Robbie Erlin to learn another lesson.

The lesson against the Braves was for Erlin to keep his pitches down.

Erlin allowed only two runs in six innings but was hurt by a high fastball that Freddie Freeman hit for a homer in the sixth, and the Padres lost to the Braves 2-1 on Saturday night.

"Robbie's still developing," Black said. "Every pitch he throws in the majors, it's a learning experience for him. Robbie pitched well enough to – in a lot of situations – get a `W.' He just got out-pitched tonight."

Kris Medlen (14-12) allowed four hits over 7 1-3 scoreless innings to win his fourth straight start for Atlanta, which got its first victory this season over the Padres. San Diego won the first four games of the season series and came close to a comeback against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.

The Braves led 2-0 before Chase Headley hit a ninth-inning homer off Kimbrel, who then pitched around a two-out walk to Ronny Cedeno for his career-best 47th save – the most in the majors.

After pinch-runner Reymond Fuentes stole second base, Nick Hundley grounded out to end the game.

"We were one base-hit from tying that game," Black said. "We were right there with them."

Erlin (2-3) walked only one batter and had three strikeouts. The 22-year-old said he tried to keep his pitches down, with Black instructing him to pitch at or below hitters' knees. Freeman's homer came on a belt-high fastball.

Erlin said he felt he did a good job early in the game.

"In the later innings it definitely crept up," he said. "It resulted in a home run."

The NL East-leading Braves increased their lead over second-place Washington to 11 games. Medlen has been a key by winning eight of his last 10 decisions.

Medlen looked like an ace to Black.

"He's their guy," Black said. "He's won 14 games. Obviously, they're on their way to the playoffs. I suspect that he'll be their first-game pitcher."

Medlen, who had five strikeouts and two walks, was removed after allowing a bloop single to Will Venable with one out in the eighth. David Carpenter recorded the final two outs of the inning.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Justin Upton, who led off with a single, scored on a two-out single to left field by Chris Johnson, who had two hits.

The Braves were denied a chance to extend their lead in the fifth when Elliot Johnson hit a two-out single and stole second. Upton singled to right field and Johnson, trying to score from second, was thrown out on right fielder Chris Denorfia's one-hop throw to the plate.

The Braves left the bases loaded in the seventh. Right-hander Dale Thayer, the Padres' third pitcher of the inning, struck out Evan Gattis to end the threat after Brad Boxberger and Tommy Layne combined to walk three batters.

San Diego's problems with walks continued in the eighth. With two outs, Andrelton Simmons doubled off Brad Brach, who then walked B.J. Upton and pinch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich. Brach struck out Elliot Johnson to end the inning.

There was a brief delay in the fifth inning when Medlen fouled a ball that hit home plate umpire Tom Hallion under his mask. The ball skimmed off catcher Nick Hundley's helmet before hitting Hallion, who remained in the game after being checked by Braves assistant trainer Jim Lovell.

Venable made a diving catch of Elliot Johnson's sinking liner in left-center in the first inning.

NOTES: Gonzalez said Braves OF Jason Heyward, who took batting practice for the second straight day, could be sent to the Braves' Instructional League in Florida next week. Heyward's right jaw was fractured when hit by a pitch from the Mets' Jonathon Niese on Aug. 21. ... B.J. Upton drew three walks. ... Braves RHP Brandon Beachy (inflammation right elbow) will begin light throwing on Monday or Tuesday. ... Braves RHP Julio Teheran will try for his 13th win against Padres RHP Burch Smith on Sunday.