Francouer, who has played in MLB-best 370 straight games, sits vs. Mets

ATLANTA -- Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur did not play in the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets on Tuesday night, ending the majors' longest current streak of consecutive games played at 370.

Francoeur started every game of the streak, which began on Oct. 1, 2005. But manager Bobby Cox decided to give his slumping outfielder the night off, hoping it will help turn things around.

Just 1-for-14 on the homestand, Francoeur's average has slipped to .258.

"It was weird," he said. "But I needed tonight mentally, more than anything. It was best to take the night off and just enjoy it. It's more important that I get back on track than keeping the streak going."

Francoeur has talked his way into the lineup before, but he didn't even try this time. He knew he needed some time off.

"It's been a mental grind," Francoeur said. "The game hasn't been fun. I hope I can get back out there tomorrow night and get another [streak] going."

Cox called him aside after Francoeur went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the opener, a 6-1 win for the Braves.

"It was definitely the right decision," Francoeur said. "I knew I needed it more than he did."

He started the streak at the end of his brilliant rookie season, in which he .300 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs and made the cover of Sports Illustrated. He played every game the last two years, totaling 48 homers and 208 RBIs.

After bulking up over the winter, looking to improve on his 19 homers from 2007, Francoeur is off to a sluggish start. A fourth of the way through the year, he's got 26 RBIs but just three homers.

With Francoeur watching from the dugout, the Braves completed the sweep with a 6-2 victory in the nightcap.

"He said he was going to sit next to me, but [pitching coach Roger] McDowell beat him to that seat," Cox joked. "He needed the rest."

Actually, Francoeur seems a bit relieved the streak is over. He's been bothered by some nagging injuries -- a sore ankle, an aching oblique -- and now he doesn't have to worry about playing hurt.

If he needs a day off, he can take one.

"Every time I got hurt, the question was, 'Are you going to play tomorrow?'" Francoeur said. "Now I can just go out there and play hard."