Atlanta Braves pitcher Kris Medlen works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
ATLANTA -- Kris Medlen struck out a career-high 13 and the Atlanta Braves pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals when Andrelton Simmons scored on a throwing error in the ninth inning Friday night.
Simmons reached on an infield single against Sean Burnett (1-2) and scurried to third when Michael Bourn lined a single that dropped in right field. Pinch hitter Tyler Pastornicky hit a one-hop grounder to shortstop Ian Desmond, who had a shot at getting Simmons but threw wildly to the plate, the ball skipping all the way to the backstop while the rookie slid across with the winning run.
Craig Kimbrel (2-1) earned the win by striking out the side in the top of the ninth on 10 pitches, though Medlen did most of the heavy lifting. He went seven innings, allowing only a homer to Bryce Harper as the Braves snapped a three-game losing streak.
Medlen kept up his remarkable season, eclipsing the previous best for strikeouts set just 11 days earlier when he fanned 12 in a complete-game win over Colorado. In his last two starts at Turner Field, he has 25 strikeouts in 16 innings.
The Braves also extended his franchise record by winning for the 20th straight time when Medlen is on the mound. That is the longest streak in the big leagues since the New York Yankees won 20 starts in a row by Roger Clemens in 2001.
Washington's Ross Detwiler wasn't as dominant as Medlen, but the left-hander was just as effective. He went six innings, allowing seven hits and one run while striking out five.
Like Medlen, Detwiler didn't factor in the decision, missing a chance to become Washington's fourth 10-win pitcher along with Gio Gonzalez (19-7), Stephen Strasburg (15-6) and Jordan Zimmermann (10-8).
The Braves broke the scoreless duel in the fourth. Freddie Freeman led off with a double, Dan Uggla walked and David Ross grounded into a forceout, moving Freeman to third. The runner was nearly caught off the bag when Desmond, realizing he would have a tough time doubling up Ross at first, wheeled and threw back to third.
Freeman dove back just ahead of the tag, then scored when Simmons went deep enough to right for a sacrifice fly.
The 1-0 lead held up the sixth. Harper drove Medlen's first pitch into the seats in left-center, an opposite-field shot for the rookie's 19th homer of the season.
Notes: Simmons was back in the lineup after missing the final two games of the Milwaukee series with a sprained right ankle. He took some grounders before batting practice and declared himself ready to play. ... Facing the left-handed Detwiler, the Braves rested Bourn and C Brian McCann. But Bourn came on as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, stayed in the game and played a big role in the win. ... The Nationals failed to become the first Washington team since the AL champion Senators in 1933 to win 90 games in a season. They'll get another chance today when Edwin Jackson (9-10) faces Atlanta's Tommy Hanson (12-8).