Kris Medlen still is amazed that he’s become the senior active member of the Braves’ youth-brigade starting rotation — “It’s crazy; it’s nuts” he’d said on Friday — but since Tim Hudson was felled by a broken ankle Medlen’s indeed been that guy.

And since Hudson’s season-ending injury July 24 Medlen has also raised his performance to another level pitching like the ace the Braves will need him to be if they’re to reach their goals this season and during the playoffs.

He got his eighth win in nine starts Saturday when he held the Padres to four hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings of a 2-1 victory at Turner Field and the Braves’ National League East magic number was reduced to four after the Nationals lost to the Phillies.

Any combination of Braves wins and Nationals losses totaling four will give the Braves their first division title since 2005. They play a series finale Sunday against the Padres then open a three-game series Monday at Washington.

Medlen (14-12) had five strikeouts with two walks to improve to 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA in his past four starts and closer Craig Kimbrel gave up a leadoff homer to Chris Headley in the ninth before recording his majors-leading and career-high 47th save and his franchise-record 37th in a row.

“I don’t know if I’m a second-half guy or whatever it is” Medlen said. “I just feel like I’ve clicked and in a game like this where you don’t have much room for mistakes you’ve just got to keep it close and execute your pitches.”

Freddie Freeman had three hits including his 21st home run to bolster a resume that should draw at least top-five MVP consideration. His sixth-inning leadoff homer pushed the lead to 2-0 and left Freeman one RBI shy of becoming the Braves’ first 100-RBI hitter since Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur did it in 2007.

“Freddie’s Freddie — he’s amazing” said Braves third baseman Chris Johnson who drove in the game’s first run with a two-out single in the fourth inning. “(Freeman) should be in that MVP talk for sure. No doubt about it. Kid rakes.”

Johnson and Justin Upton had two hits apiece with Johnson driving in Upton in the fourth. Upton and Freeman had consecutive singles to start the inning and it was up to Johnson to get a run in after Evan Gattis flied out and Brian McCann popped out foul.