Series preview: Mets at Braves

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The Mets face (l to r) Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson and Brandon Beachy in Atlanta this weekend.

METS (71-79, third place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (86-64, second place/NL East)

Friday: LHP Chris Capuano (10-12, 4.49) vs. RHP Derek Lowe (9-14, 4.70), 7:35 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP R.A. Dickey (8-12, 3.43) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (14-10, 3.32), 4:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (12-6, 4.37) vs. RHP Brandon Beachy (7-2, 3.43), 1:35 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

• The Braves were swept last weekend in St. Louis, tightening the race between those teams for the wild card. Atlanta leads the Cardinals by 4½ games. The Braves’ magic number to clinch is nine. The Mets will have something to say about the race, with their six-game trip taking the Amazin’s to Busch Stadium after Atlanta.

Daniel Shirey/US Presswire

In St. Louis last Friday, Craig Kimbrel blew his first save since June 8.

Chipper Jones has been placed in the No. 2 hole in six of the past eight games beginning with the makeup doubleheader last Thursday at Citi Field.

Tommy Hanson, who has been out since Aug. 6 with a rotator-cuff injury, is expected to return to the major league rotation by the end of the regular season. That is vitally important for Atlanta’s postseason chances. The Braves have started a rookie in seven of their past nine games, with Brandon Beachy, Randall Delgado, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran. The quartet has pitched relatively well, but generally not deep into games, requiring a heavy bullpen workload. However, Jair Jurrjens (knee) may be unavailable for a second straight postseason.

• Catcher Brian McCann has struggled since returning from an oblique injury, hitting .179 since mid-August. He batted sixth Tuesday for the first time since 2008.

• Shortstop Alex Gonzalez finally is heating up in September after a season-long rut at the plate. Gonzalez, a free-agent-to-be, is hitting .395 with nine RBIs in 12 games for the month. The Braves could re-sign Gonzalez to a one-year deal if they can look past the generally subpar offensive numbers (.238 for the season). But they have prospect Tyler Pastornicky waiting in the wings, potentially at some point next season. Pastornicky hit a combined .314 with seven homers and 45 RBIs in 459 at-bats this season between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.

• In the opener in St. Louis, Craig Kimbrel -- who owns the MLB rookie record for saves -- blew his first chance since June 8. That started a season-high four-game losing streak for the Braves.


Capuano vs. Braves (career: 3-3, 2.74 ERA)

Matt Diaz .375, 1 RBI, 2 K, 17 PA

Jack Wilson .370, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 28 PA

Brian McCann .333, 6 PA

David Ross .300, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K, 10 PA

Alex Gonzalez .250, 1 RBI, 12 PA

Dan Uggla .214, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 9 K, 17 PA

Michael Bourn .133, 2 BB, 6 K, 17 PA

Chipper Jones .091, 2 BB, 3 K, 13 PA

Martin Prado .000, 1 K, 7 PA

Jose Constanza .000, 1 K, 3 PA

Freddie Freeman .000, 1 K, 3 PA

Eric Hinske .000, 2 K, 2 PA

Brooks Conrad .000, 1 K, 1 PA

Dickey vs. Braves (career: 1-3, 4.54 ERA)

Chipper Jones .500, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, 7 PA

Jose Constanza .500, 1 RBI, 2 PA

Freddie Freeman .375, 1 K, 8 PA

Jason Heyward .300, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 12 PA

Michael Bourn .294, 3 RBI, 3 K, 19 PA

Brian McCann .250, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 1 K, 16 PA

Alex Gonzalez .235, 2 RBI, 4 K, 18 PA

Eric Hinske .150, 3 BB, 2 K, 23 PA

Martin Prado .071, 2 K, 14 PA

Dan Uggla .000, 1 RBI, 4 K, 19 PA

Jack Wilson .000, 3 K, 4 PA

David Ross .000, 1 K, 3 PA

Brooks Conrad .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 PA

Matt Diaz .000, 1 K, 2 PA

Gee vs. Braves (career: 2-2, 2.86 ERA)

Jack Wilson 1.000, 1 PA

Jose Constanza .667, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 PA

J.C. Boscan .667, 3 PA

Alex Gonzalez .333, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 16 PA

David Ross .333, 1 RBI, 1 K, 3 PA

Jason Heyward .250, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K, 13 PA

Dan Uggla .231, 1 RBI, 2 K, 14 PA

Martin Prado .214, 15 PA

Brian McCann .200, 1 BB, 1 K, 11 PA

Freddie Freeman .091, 1 RBI, 1 K, 11 PA

Eric Hinske .000, 2 BB, 2 K, 8 PA

Chipper Jones .000, 1 BB, 3 K, 8 PA

Lowe vs. Mets (career: 5-5, 5.42 ERA)

Josh Thole .462, 3 RBI, 13 PA

David Wright .294, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4 K, 34 PA

Angel Pagan .250, 3 RBI, 2 K, 24 PA

Willie Harris .229, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 36 PA

Jose Reyes .227, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 24 PA

Ronny Paulino .200, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, 8 PA

Jason Bay .000, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K, 21 PA

Ruben Tejada .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 6 PA

Justin Turner .000, 3 PA

Lucas Duda .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 PA

Hudson vs. Mets (career: 14-9, 3.64 ERA)

Jason Pridie .600, 1 K, 5 PA

Ruben Tejada .500, 1 RBI, 1 K, 8 PA

Nick Evans .500, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 4 PA

Angel Pagan .458, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 26 PA

Jason Bay .350, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 5 K, 26 PA

Jose Reyes .279, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K, 71 PA

Lucas Duda .231, 2 K, 16 PA

David Wright .217, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 7 BB, 5 K, 68 PA

Josh Thole .200, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 11 PA

Willie Harris .176, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, 21 PA

Ronny Paulino .154, 1 BB, 3 K, 14 PA

Justin Turner .111, 1 RBI, 1 K, 9 PA

Beachy vs. Mets (career: never faced)

Last series results

Braves won, 2-0, at Citi Field, Sept. 8 (AP game recaps)

Braves 6, Mets 5

Braves 5, Mets 1: In two matchups of rookie pitchers, the Mets' Chris Schwinden and Dillon Gee were not quite good enough against the Braves' Mike Minor and Julio Teheran. After Schwinden lost his big league debut, Gee pitched effectively for six innings of a nightcap loss to Atlanta in a doubleheader made necessary by the threat of Hurricane Irene. Gee (12-6) gave up three runs and four hits, striking out six and walking two. It's only the fourth time since 1965 that all the starting pitchers in a doubleheader were rookies. Teheran (1-1) gave a performance in Game 2 more in line with his minor league credentials than his first two big league starts in May. The International League's Most Valuable Pitcher and Rookie of the Year went 15-3 for Triple-A Gwinnett, but he gave up a combined five runs in 8 2/3 innings for the Braves earlier this year for a 5.19 ERA. This time, he gave up two hits to start the first and a sacrifice fly then little more in 5 1/3 innings and came away with his first big league win. He yielded five hits overall. Chipper Jones had a sacrifice fly and RBI double in the nightcap and a solo homer and a double in the opener. Dan Uggla had an RBI single in the first, driving in Michael Bourn two outs after the speedster reached on Jose Reyes' fielding error at shortstop. Ross had an RBI single in the fifth off Gee and a homer in the ninth to straightaway center. Jones drove in a run when his sinking liner was caught by a diving Jason Bay in the seventh and doubled after Bourn tripled in the ninth. Bay hit a grand slam off Minor (5-2) in the opener and had a sacrifice fly in the finale, both coming in the first inning. Valentino Pascucci singled as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of the night game for his first major league at-bat since the Montreal Expos' final game in 2004, the 32-year-old’s only season in the big leagues until his call-up this September. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez tried shaking up his scuffling club, losers of five of six over all coming in, by stacking his top on-base percentage guys up front, and his squad, with Jones starting as the No. 2 batter for first time since 1996, responded in the opener. Cleanup hitter Freddie Freeman hit a two-run double and Martin Prado had an RBI single in the first. They each had three hits. Jason Heyward had the go-ahead hit, an RBI single in the third off Schwinden (0-1). Jones tied it with his 48th homer against the Mets leading off the third, his most against any opponent. Reyes led off the ninth with a pinch-hit single off Craig Kimbrel, but the closer extended his rookie record by retiring the next three for his 43rd save. In the opener, Schwinden gave up three runs with two outs in the first. Making his 12th start this year, Minor was tagged for a two-out grand slam in the bottom half. He was nicked for just four more hits in five innings while Schwinden gave up two more runs and left trailing 5-4 after throwing 100 pitched in his five.