Mets beat Atlanta for third time in four games

NEW YORK (AP) -- Greg Maddux has some work to do.

With five starts left, his streak of consecutive 15-win seasons

could come to an end. And he could even finish with a losing record

for the first time since 1987, his first full season in the major


"Would I like to win 15, 16 games? Yeah," he said Monday after

getting a no-decision in the Atlanta Braves' 3-2 loss to the New

York Mets. "But it's more important for me to put myself in

position to make good pitches than it is to win games."

The 37-year-old right-hander, 13-10 in 31 starts, allowed two

runs and seven hits in six innings on a damp afternoon with

intermittent rain. He faulted himself for getting the ball up to

Jason Phillips, who hit a pair of singles off him.

"The ball's going nowhere. Slow, wet grass. Perfect day to

pitch," said Maddux, 3-0 against the Mets this year.

After Maddux left the game, Timo Perez hit a tiebreaking

sacrifice fly in the seventh off Trey Hodges (3-3) as the

last-place Mets beat the division-leading Braves for just the sixth

time in 17 meetings this year.

Maddux, who tied Cy Young's standard with 15 straight seasons

with 15 or more wins, came out for a pinch hitter in the seventh.

The Braves loaded the bases with one out, but Gary Sheffield popped

out and Jones flied out against reliever Dan Wheeler (1-2), who got

his first major league win since beating Texas for Tampa Bay on May

23, 2001.

Atlanta's Johnny Estrada hit into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double

play in the eighth off David Weathers, who barehanded the ball and

threw home.

"Best changeup I've had all year," Weathers joked. "I'm

coming out with my fielding video next week."

Atlanta stranded 12 runners in all, with Jones hitting an

inning-ending, double-play grounder in the fifth against starter

Jeremy Griffiths.

Weathers got five outs for his sixth save in seven chances.

Sheffield doubled with two outs in the ninth and Chipper Jones was

intentionally walked, but Weathers got Andruw Jones to fly out to

right-center, ending New York's three-game losing streak.

"We dodged some bullets," Mets manager Art Howe said. "That

is why I walked Chipper in the ninth inning. I didn't want to tempt

the fates to try to get him again with the tying run on second


Atlanta had brief scare in the fourth when Sheffield fell,

clutching his right leg, as he tried to catch Perez's sinking liner

in right field. Sheffield, who tore up a big chunk of turf,

remained in the game.

"I thought he did something to his knee really bad," Braves

manager Bobby Cox said.

Sheffield, who expects to play Tuesday, was wearing a pad on the

leg to protect it against slides and said the pain came from the

calf area. When he hit the turf with all his weight on one leg, he

immediately thought of Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick,

who broke a leg in an exhibition game Aug. 16.

"I thought I sprained my ankle," Sheffield said. "I know

Michael Vick went down with something similar."

Griffiths was brought up from the minors for the start, given to

him because Aaron Heilman pitched poorly against Altanta last week.

He was told about the start Saturday and traveled to New York from

Norfolk, Va.

"I made a six-hour drive in about nine hours," he said, citing

holiday weekend traffic.

Griffiths allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He's

made three major league starts, and already has faced Maddux and

Roger Clemens, both likely Hall of Famers.

"I'd like to get a hit off of one of them," he said.

Griffiths impressed Maddux and Cox with the sink on his pitches.

"He's going to be a good one," Cox said. "He's got tremendous

movement."Game notes
A day after badly spraining his left ankle, Mets SS Jose

Reyes was on crutches. He is to have an MRI Tuesday, but Mets

physician Dr. Andrew Rokito already has recommended that he not

play for a minimum of three weeks -- there are only four weeks left

in the season. ... Atlanta was 3-for-3 in steal attempts against

Mike Piazza, who has thrown out just 19 of 61 basestealers this

season. ... Joe McEwing, playing in place of Reyes, ranged far to

make nice pickups and throw out Robert Fick in the sixth and Marcus

Giles in the ninth. ... Atlanta RHP Kevin Gryboski, who went on the

DL Thursday, has a right labrum tear and doesn't expect to pitch

until the last week of the regular season. ... Andruw Jones' RBI

infield single put the Braves ahead in the fourth, but the Mets

took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half when Phillips hit an RBI single

and scored on Marco Scutaro's sacrifice fly. Rafael Furcal's RBI

single tied it in the fifth.