Wright's 4th HR in last 4 games helps Mets blank Braves

Hero: Oliver Perez pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up only four hits and two walks. He struck out five batters while winning his third straight start.

Figure this: Perez improved to 3-0 against the Braves this season, including two wins at Atlanta.

Quotable: "Big games are playoff games. In the season, you're always counted on to pitch games. ... Winning three games against the Braves just means that he's doing his job." -- Mets manager Willie Randolph on Perez

-- ESPN.com news services

Mets 3, Braves 0

ATLANTA (AP) -- New York Mets manager Willie Randolph isn't ready to proclaim Oliver Perez a big-game pitcher.

For now, it's enough that Perez is New York's new Braves-beater.

Perez pitched seven innings and moved to 3-0 against Atlanta this season to lead the Mets to a 3-0 win over the Braves on Wednesday night.

"Another great outing for him," Randolph said after Perez (6-3) won his third straight start.

The first-place Mets increased their lead over Atlanta in the NL East to 2 1/2 games, but the win over the second-place Braves in May doesn't meet Randolph's standard for a big game.

"Big games are playoff games," Randolph said. "In the season, you're always counted on to pitch games. ... Winning three games against the Braves just means that he's doing his job."

David Wright hit his fourth homer in four games.

Perez gave up only four hits and two walks. He struck out five batters while winning in Atlanta for the second time this season.

"I like pitching anywhere," Perez said when asked about his success at Turner Field.

"I always play the game like it's the last game I'm going to pitch."

The Braves only wish Wednesday night's start was the last for Perez against Atlanta. In his three wins over the Braves this season, Perez has allowed three earned runs in 20 2/3 innings for a 1.31 ERA.

"I think he's one of the toughest guys we've seen," said Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Atlanta's Matt Diaz said he was mystified by the back-door sliders thrown by Perez.

"He started it the left-handed batter's box and broke it right over the outside corner," said the right-handed hitting Diaz, who was 0-for-4. "I came and looked at film and thought, 'Is that really coming the whole way back?"

Perez lowered his ERA to 2.54. With the win, he's tied for the National League lead with six victories.

"He's getting better and better," said Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca. "He has great command of his fastball on both sides of the plate. He's making the pitches he has to make. He has turned into a monster."

Joe Smith pitched a perfect eighth and Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his 11th save to complete the five-hitter.

Wright hit fourth for the third time this season. Carlos Delgado, normally the cleanup hitter, hit as low as sixth in a game he started for the first time since May 14, 1997, while with Toronto. Delgado had two hits, lifting his average from .209 to .216.

Wright's eighth homer -- all in May -- was a liner to left that gave the Mets a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning. Wright hit three homers in the last two games of a weekend series against the Yankees.

"I felt good," Wright said.

The Mets could win their sixth straight series by taking the third game of the series on Thursday.

Cox also had his slumping former cleanup hitter, Andruw Jones, hitting sixth for the third straight game. Jones was 0-for-3, leaving his batting average at .216.

Cox gave Chris Woodward his first start of the year at first base and Martin Prado his second start at second base. Each was 0-for-4.

Perez made the most of Cox's effort to keep his backups sharp. Perez gave up first-inning singles to Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones and then gave up only one more hit -- a third-inning single by Braves starting pitcher Chuck James -- in the next five innings.

"We'll have to change our game plan the next time we face him," Diaz said.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had two hits, led off the seventh with a single for Atlanta's fourth hit off Perez. Woodward and pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson struck out looking and Prado popped out to Delgado at first base to end the inning.

An error by Prado helped the Mets score their first run in the third. Prado couldn't handle the throw from catcher Saltalamacchia at second on a double steal by Jose Reyes and Shawn Green. Prado's fielding error allowed Reyes to score after stealing third.

A bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Carlos Gomez in the fourth drove in Lo Duca for a 2-0 lead.

James (4-4) gave up seven hits and three runs -- two earned -- in 4 2/3 innings. He walked three batters and recorded two strikeouts.

Game notes
Reyes leads the major leagues with 26 steals. ... Perez hit two batters with low inside pitches -- Andruw Jones in the second inning and Jeff Francoeur in the third. ... Atlanta RHP Oscar Villarreal hit Lo Duca and Damion Easley with pitches in the eighth. ... Willie Harris, who walked as a pinch-hitter for Atlanta in the fifth, stole his fifth base in his 20th game.