November 20, 2014

Medina
Flurries
22°F

Tribe Thursday: Atlanta sweeps Cleveland aside

ATLANTA — Brian McCann hit a three-run homer, Kris Medlen pitched seven scoreless innings and the Atlanta Braves completed a sweep of the Indians with a 3-1 victory Thursday night.

McCann went deep in the third after Justin Upton kept the inning going with a two-out single. Upton had to leave the game in the sixth after being struck on the left hand by a pitch, but X-rays were negative. He is day to day.

Medlen (11-12) capped a series of dominant pitching by the Braves, who surrendered just three runs in three games. David Carpenter gave up a pinch-hit homer to Lonnie Chisenhall in the eighth, but Craig Kimbrel worked a scoreless ninth for his 43rd save in 46 chances.

Ubaldo Jimenez (9-9) took the loss.

Cleveland didn’t lose any ground in the AL wild-card race, remaining four games back of Oakland. The A’s lost 7-6 at Detroit.

Medlen surrendered six hits in snapping a two-game losing streak, taking advantage of a team that is struggling offensively in what could be a crucial stretch of its season.

The Indians have scored more than three runs only once in the last seven games as they travel to Detroit this weekend to face the AL Central-leading Tigers, and then come home for a series against playoff contender Baltimore.

Cleveland didn’t get more than one runner aboard in any inning until the seventh, when Carlos Santana led off with a single and Yan Gomes reached on a hit with one out. The threat fizzled as Asdrubal Cabrera flied out to center and Mike Aviles lined out to right.

Jimenez pitched seven strong innings, but one big mistake cost him. McCann launched his 19th homer of the season about 10 rows back in the right-field seats, giving the Braves all the runs they would need for their fourth straight victory.

With the Cleveland offense posing little threat, the biggest scare for the Braves came in the sixth when Upton was plunked on the left hand by a 92-mph fastball from Jimenez. The training staff ran out immediately to check the hand, and it looked as though he intended to stay in the game. But he was escorted to the clubhouse for precautionary X-rays and replaced by Freddie Freeman, who was supposed to get the night off.

As Upton walked off the field, there was a sense of dread at Turner Field. Just eight days earlier, outfielder Jason Heyward was struck in the face by a pitch against the New York Mets, leaving him with a broken jaw that required surgery. He could miss the rest of the regular season, though Heyward hopes to return in time for the playoffs.

Upton’s injury was not as serious, it turned out, the NL East-leading Braves finally catching a break in what has been an injury plagued season.