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NYM@ATL: Medlen strikes out seven over seven innings

This might be the 17th year of Interleague Play, but that doesn't mean there aren't still firsts for the format.

When the Royals and Braves meet for a two-game series Tuesday and Wednesday, it will be Atlanta's first time playing in Kansas City. The teams have met eight times, with all three series coming at Turner Field, including a two-game set they split back in April.

One of those matchups was a 6-3 Braves win on April 16, but Atlanta righty Kris Medlen didn't get a decision in that one, despite allowing just one run over seven innings.

He'll get another shot on Tuesday, as he looks to reverse his hard-luck losing trend. Medlen has a 2.96 ERA, yet he sports a 4-7 record. In five of his seven losses, he's allowed three or fewer runs and has tossed a shutout with a no-decision in addition to the no-decision against the Royals.

Backing up Medlen is a Braves offense that has been shut out three times since June 14 and played the final two games vs. the Brewers without Justin Upton.

Upton is nursing a sore hand, but Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said Monday's day off should get the outfielder back in the lineup.

"If we don't have to use him, we won't use him," Gonzalez said. "We'll match him up with the right guy. We thought that with [Saturday, Sunday and Monday], the scheduled day off, we would turn the corner and really be fine. Obviously, he could play the field, but the more time we give him off, the better he'll be."

Meanwhile, the Royals have been in a rut lately, losing their four of their last five games.

The offense has been mostly to blame for the skid, but the bats woke up a little bit on Sunday with three-run fifth and eighth innings during a come-from-behind 7-6 win over the White Sox.

Still, two of the runs were unearned in the eighth, and in the fifth, eight- and nine-hole batters George Kottaras and Jarrod Dyson belted consecutive solo homers.

But the issue has been in the middle of the order, where the three-, four- and five-hole hitters have been underwhelming. Those spots have combined to go 5-for-53 with four RBIs during the past five games.

"We don't put more pressure on the 3-4-5," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "Offense doesn't hinge on two guys or three guys, it hinges on nine guys. A productive and consistent offense hinges on nine guys with each guy doing their job, whatever that job is."

Braves: DH still up in the air in AL park
Gonzalez said he's still unsure about the Braves' options at designated hitter in Kansas City, an American League ballpark.

"I really haven't thought about it," Gonzalez said. "I have more problems on my plate than the DH on Tuesday right now."

At some point this season, Dan Uggla, Brian McCann, Evan Gattis and Juan Francisco have all served in the DH role for Atlanta during previous Interleague series.

But Gonzalez's options are more limited this time around. Gattis is on the disabled list and the Brewers traded for Francisco earlier this month.

"We'll move it around during those two games," Gonzalez said.

Royals: Santana in good groove in June
Kansas City starter Ervin Santana takes the mound Tuesday night looking for his eighth straight outing of at least seven innings.

Santana has been on fire in June, going 2-0 with a 0.94 ERA, allowing only three runs in 28 2/3 innings with opponents batting just .165 against him during that stretch.

He's only faced the Braves twice, most recently with the Angels in May 2011 when he tossed a complete-game shutout while allowing only four hits.

Despite his gaudy 2.64 ERA in 2013, which is third among American League starters, Santana's record is only 5-5 due to spotty run support from the Royals offense, which continues to struggle of late.

"We don't have to think about that," Santana said. "Every time we take the mound, we have to do our best and trust our bats. You just try to make it simple. Trust our teammates, try to play hard and know that things aren't going our way right now, but it's going to turn around."

Worth Noting
• Atlanta leads the all-time series, 5-3, sweeping the Royals in 2010.

• The Braves are the last National League team to play in Kaufmann Stadium.

• Kansas City claimed right-handed reliever Maikel Cleto off waivers on Sunday from the St. Louis Cardinals. He's been assigned to Triple-A Omaha.

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