The Braves will have plenty of other chances to move closer to their first National League East title since 2005, but they hit a slight roadblock Friday night.
They lost a three-run lead in a 4-3 loss to the Padres -- their second loss in five games -- holding their magic number at six. Though they won't be popping bottles of champagne in the Turner Field locker room on this homestand, Atlanta can continue its charge toward the postseason in Game 2 against the Padres Saturday.
Atlanta will try to even the series behind one of its hottest starters in Kris Medlen (13-12, 3.46 ERA). Medlen's won his last three starts and has allowed just three runs over his last 20 1/3 innings.
Though he hasn't faced San Diego this year, Medlen's dominated the Padres with a 1.33 ERA in six games (two starts). He's also won seven of his last nine starts behind a 2.75 ERA, enough to overcome a rocky start to the year.
"I'm not done yet," Medlen said. "But when you get to this point right now, it's pretty fun to look back and see that I started 1-6 and kind of turned things around."
After halting its two-game skid Friday, San Diego will try to build on that success behind rookie southpaw Robbie Erlin. Erlin has surrendered three earned runs or fewer in five of his first six big league starts, but he's struggled on the road with an 8.62 ERA in five appearances (three starts).
He may need a few innings to knock the rust off as he hasn't pitched since Sept. 3, when he allowed two runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Giants. But each start carries extra weight because he's auditioning for a spot in the Padres' 2014 rotation.
"It felt good," Erlin said after his last start. "I tried to keep the fastball down and work both sides of the plate."
Though the Padres swept the Braves at Petco Park in June, a win Saturday to take the series would break a lasting record of trouble at Turner Field. The Padres are 21-38 since the venue opened in 1997 and dropped three of four in last season's series at Turner Field.
Braves: Kimbrel making club history
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel hasn't pitched since Tuesday, but the next time the Braves head into the ninth with a lead, he will try to convert his 37th straight save.
Kimbrel's already hurdled over John Smoltz's former franchise record of 27 straight converted saves and he's allowed just one run and 22 hits since his last blown save on May 7 -- good for a 0.19 ERA and .139 opponents' average over that streak. He's now recorded at least 40 saves in three consecutive seasons.
Padres: Venable breaking onto national scene
Will Venable has built a convincing case as one of the best players that most fans outside of the NL West have never heard of.
The Padres outfielder crushed his team-leading 22nd home run in Thursday's loss to the Phillies, the most homers for a San Diego outfielder since Mike Cameron hit 22 in 2006. He also has 19 doubles and seven triples -- tied for fifth-most in the league -- to accompany his 52 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.
His rare combination of speed and power puts him in elite company. Venable joins Andrew McCutchen, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Gomez and Drew Stubbs as the only NL players with at least 50 homers and 90 steals since the beginning of the 2010 season.
• Erlin has floated between the Minor and Major Leagues all season and the Padres called him up from Triple-A Tucson for the fourth time Aug. 28. He's never faced the Braves.
• Braves starters have earned a quality start (at least six innings, no more than three earned runs allowed) in 24 of their last 35 games.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.