SAN DIEGO -- Through the first four months of this season, the Braves fought against the temptation to move Kris Medlen into a starting role. Since allowing him to make the transition at the end of July, they have watched him become the most consistent and reliable member of their starting rotation.
Medlen extended his dominant run as a starter with eight scoreless innings that were backed by the long home run Dan Uggla hit in Tuesday night's 2-0 win over the red-hot Padres at PETCO Park.
"He's been unbelievable," Uggla said. "I remember facing him and it wasn't that fun, either. He goes out there, knows what he has to do and executes. He's got that great changeup and puts his pitches where he wants to put them."
Following the blueprint he had used while completing his first career shutout against the Padres on Aug. 16 in Atlanta, Medlen scattered five hits and did not allow a baserunner to advance past first base. Showing off his athletic skills and quick feet, he completed two successful pickoff moves at first base.
"I don't think I've seen two pickoffs from a right-handed pitcher in a long time," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He does a lot of good stuff."
With Medlen leading the way and Uggla drilling his confidence-building home run in the fifth inning, the Braves snapped the Padres' eight-game winning streak. More importantly, they moved to within four games of the first-place Nationals, who lost a fifth consecutive game on Tuesday.
The Braves have won each of the past 17 games Medlen has started dating back to the 2010 season, when he was forced to undergo Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Looking to fortify their bullpen and protect his arm, the Braves had Medlen begin this season as a reliever.
After his second start this season, it seemed apparent that his days in the bullpen were over.
"He's not afraid of any situation," Gonzalez said. "He's having fun. That's a nice trait to have."
Medlen has completed 28 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, the Braves' longest stretch since Greg Maddux tossed 39 1/3 in 2000.
"It doesn't matter to me," Medlen said. "We're winning games and that's all that really matters. When you start worrying about stuff like that is when you get off your plan and off your focus."
Medlen has produced an 0.66 ERA in his first six starts and worked into the seventh inning in each of the four appearances he has made since making the move from reliever to starter.
"He's a good pitcher," Padres manager Bud Black said. "There's no doubt, look at his ERA and what he's done this year, coming back off of Tommy John surgery. He's a good young pitcher, he's got three pitches he throws for strikes, changes speeds. He pitches. For a young pitcher, he does a nice job of pitching."
Instead of allowing Medlen to bid for his second shutout in less than two weeks, Gonzalez removed his talented young hurler after 100 pitches. This gave closer Craig Kimbrel a chance for his first save opportunity since Aug. 3. He converted it with three strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning.
One night after being blanked by Casey Kelly in his Major League debut, the Braves gained an early lead against Padres starter Andrew Werner, who was making his second big league start. Martin Prado notched a first-inning single and scored when Chipper Jones drilled a two-out double off the right-center-field wall.
Batting in the eighth spot of the lineup for the first time in his career, Uggla gave Medlen some cushion when he lined a full-count changeup over the left-field wall. It was the 1,000th hit of his career and his first home run since he hit one in consecutive games against the Padres on Aug. 14 and 15.
"When you look up seven years later, it's hard to believe it's been that long and you've accumulated that many hits," Uggla said. "That's a cool thing to do. It puts in perspective what guys like Pete Rose and Ichiro [Suzuki] and Chipper and all of those guys. ... It lets you how hard it is to get to the numbers that they got to."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.