ST. LOUIS — One minute, Kris Medlen was going toe-to-toe with St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. The next, he was gone.
The Braves right-hander wasn't shy about criticizing what he thought was a quick hook from a one-run game in the seventh inning Friday night, but the Cardinals ended up winning 3-1.
"I got taken out with 78 pitches and I was just about to start battling," Medlen said. "I hadn't had to battle yet but I wasn't given the opportunity, so I guess I'm voicing the fact that I didn't appreciate that."
Medlen (10-12) allowed Matt Holliday's go-ahead 432-foot homer in the sixth, then got lifted for reliever Scott Downs after Yadier Molina doubled and Jon Jay singled to start the seventh.
"I don't know what kind of mentality we're trying to create for our starters, but I feel like I should be able to work out of some jams," Medlen said. "Downsy did his thing but I felt like I was doing well enough where I was a strikeout and a double play away from getting out of the inning."
Medlen said he didn't try to persuade manager Fredi Gonzalez to leave him in, believing that the decision had been made.
Gonzalez met with reporters before Medlen spoke and was complimentary.
"He gave us six innings, we ran him back out there in the seventh," Gonzalez said. "He did a nice job, he really did."
Wainwright earned his NL-leading 15th win with his fifth complete game and had a key sacrifice fly for the Cardinals, who took the first two games of a four-game set against the NL East leaders.
"You want your guys to step up but you're not facing Joe Schmo," Gonzalez said.
Having already thrown 101 pitches, Wainwright was allowed to bat with the one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning and hit a long sacrifice fly off Downs for his third RBI of the season to make it 3-1. He then retired the side in order in the eighth.
Medlen singled to lead off the sixth and scored on Freddie Freeman's second hit of the game and retired 12 in a row at one point. But he allowed Holliday's 17th homer on a liner deep into the left field stands. He's lost his last two times out, including a relief appearance in a 15-inning game.
The Cardinals lost three in a row at Atlanta to start a seven-game losing streak in late July that knocked them out of the Central lead and entered the night a game behind Pittsburgh. Wainwright (15-7) took one of the losses in that series, but the Brunswick, Ga., native is 7-2 against the Braves.
Wainwright allowed a run on six hits with no walks and nine strikeouts, passing injured teammate Chris Carpenter for third on the franchise career list, and he has 16 career complete games. He's worked seven or more innings seven straight starts and retired 10 in a row at one point.
He even got an assist from his manager. Mike Matheny, a former four-time Gold Glove catcher, took the warmup tosses from Wainwright before the ninth.
Molina had three hits with a pair of doubles to raise his NL-leading average to .337, five points ahead of the Braves' Chris Johnson, who had a pair of singles.
The Braves' Justin Upton was ejected in the sixth for arguing with home plate umpire Paul Nauert after a groundout, saying he got tossed for cursing at himself leaving the box.
"To be honest, if I can't get frustrated with myself and say what I want to myself, then it's really sad," Upton said.
Upton said he'd objected to a call on the previous pitch and believed Nauert had already been upset at him and then "misinterpreted one of the words," adding that Gonzalez "heard it and he was further away."
Gonzalez said it wasn't a "good ejection" and that Nauert's explanation "didn't satisfy me. But nonetheless you can't get him back into the game."
NOTES: Braves SS Andrelton Simmons made an outstanding sliding catch on Kolten Wong's foul popup in the second. ... B.J. Upton snapped an 0-for-25 slump with a single in the second. ... Wainwright tied his career best for complete games in a season, also throwing five in 2010. He threw a season-high 128 pitches. ... Freeman is 12 for 27 (.444) during a six-game hitting streak.