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KC@ATL: Medlen fans five over seven solid innings

Nothing has gone right for Jonathan Sanchez so far this season.

The Pirates left-hander not only remains winless in his first two starts, both losses, but Sanchez has a hefty 12.96 ERA.

Against the D-backs on April 10, Sanchez went just 3 1/3 innings, allowing nine runs on eight hits. It was a far cry from the left-hander who impressed in Spring Training.

He got some work in since that start, allowing two runs in two innings during his last outing, a rainout against St. Louis on Tuesday.

"We've covered a lot of distance, and have a lot more to go," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told Sanchez after his start against Arizona. "You're gonna have days like this to test your faith in what you've been doing. It would've been crazy to think you weren't going to have a day like this along the way."

Sanchez will look to move beyond that start when he takes the mound for Sunday's series finale against the Braves at PNC Park. The Pirates, winners of six of their last eight, will go for the series win after having won two of the first three games against the Braves.

Getting that coveted win could be difficult for Sanchez with Braves right-hander Kris Medlen on the hill. Medlen has a 1.05 ERA in his past 15 starts and has allowed just one earned run in his last 17 innings.

On Tuesday against the Royals, Medlen allowed just one earned run on six hits in seven innings of work for the no-decision.

While Medlen struggled with his mechanics during Spring Training, he exhibited pinpoint control on Tuesday, striking out five and walked none. In total, Medlen threw 99 pitches, 73 for strikes.

"Once I felt my delivery kick in, I just felt comfortable," Medlen said. "I knew if I made the pitches I needed to make, I'd have quicker at-bats. That felt like the old me."

Braves: Avilan avoids disabled list
• While throwing his bullpen session at PNC Park on Saturday afternoon, reliever Luis Avilan provided enough evidence that he will not need to be placed on the disabled list.

"We feel really good about Avilan," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He threw a bullpen today and he feels good. I think he's available today in an emergency, and then maybe tomorrow."

To provide some bullpen depth on Saturday, the Braves placed infielder Blake DeWitt on the disabled list with a lower back strain and recalled right-handed reliever David Carpenter from Triple-A Gwinnett.

Pirates: Martin gets start at third base
• After 500 consecutive defensive starts at catcher, Russell Martin was penciled in at third base for the Pirates on Saturday night against the Braves.

"I'm definitely excited but, for me, it's just another ball game," Martin said. "Fielding ground balls and making throws across the diamond is what I've done my whole life."

About a week and a half ago, Hurdle encouraged Martin to take grounders at third base during pregame drills because "you don't know what's going to happen."

Worth noting
• Sanchez is 1-3 with a 5.45 ERA in nine career games (seven starts) against the Braves.

• When leading after six innings this season, the Pirates are 8-0.

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