Atlanta (45-21) at Seattle (44-22)

  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Sun Jun 15, 2003
  • TV: ESPN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners hope to meet again in October with more than just the best record in baseball on the line.

But for now they’ll have to settle for regular season supremacy in the finale of a three-game interleague series at Safeco Field.

After a split of the first two games, Atlanta finds itself just one game in front of Seattle for the top record in the majors. The series has been thrilling for both fans and players thus far.

“They’ve got a great crowd, incredible fans who have duplicated a World Series or playoff atmosphere,” said Atlanta closer John Smoltz, who got his major league-leading 26th save in 27 opportunities in Saturday’s 3-1 win.

Seattle won the opener 2-1 on Friday.

“It’s nice to play in June to a sold-out stadium in a big atmosphere with two teams that have the best records,” added Smoltz.

Atlanta will send Greg Maddux to the mound Sunday. After struggling through the early season, Maddux has looked more like a four-time NL Cy Young award winner in his last four starts.

He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of those outings, walking just two batters. He didn’t factor in the decision in Atlanta’s 4-3 loss to Oakland on Tuesday, allowing three runs over seven innings.

Seattle will counter with its most surprising starter this season, Gil Meche. The right-hander, who is 8-3, will be trying to bounce back from his first loss in five starts.

Meche, who has had a long road back from two arm surgeries in 2001 that sidelined him for a year, took the loss in a 7-3 setback to Montreal on Tuesday.

“I made some bad pitches,” Meche said. “I left them out over the plate. The last few games, I’ve been making a bunch of mistakes late in the game.”

STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Mariners - 1st place, AL West.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Maddux (5-5, 4.58 ERA). Maddux, a 16-year NL veteran, is making his first career start against the Mariners. He has lowered his ERA a full point over the last four starts.

MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Meche (8-3, 3.32 ERA). Meche, who will be making his first appearance against Atlanta, pitched for Double-A San Antonio last season. He was a first-round selection by Seattle in 1996.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .342 avg. and 55 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 19 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 59 runs and 11 SBs. Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .337 avg. and 15 SBs; Bret Boone, 18 HRs, 52 RBIs and 53 runs.

INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Braves - 6-2. Mariners - 7-4.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - Atlanta’s 106 home runs lead the majors, but the Braves have gone two games without one. Friday night marked the first time in 10 games the Braves didn’t homer. … OF Chipper Jones, still troubled by a sore left wrist, didn’t play Saturday. He had returned after a two-game absence Friday. … RF Sheffield is hitting .370 with 12 RBIs in his last 14 games. Mariners - OF Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning single Saturday. … 1B John Olerud is two hits away from 2,000 for his career after going 0-for-4 on Saturday. … Seattle is 17-1 in day games this season.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 21-12 on the road; Mariners - 19-14 at home.

INJURIES: Braves - RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL. Mariners - OF John Mabry (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki (ribs), 15-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

G. Maddux LAD vs. G. Meche KC
16-11 Record 15-13
3.96 ERA 4.59
124 K 130
33 BB 63
1.18 WHIP 1.34