Atlanta (50-39) at New York (44-44)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 58° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Thu Jul 14, 2005
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The Atlanta Braves did more than get by during an injury-plagued first half.

They will look to move closer to capturing their 14th consecutive division crown when they open the second half of the season with a four-game series against the New York Mets.

Despite missing 60 percent of their starting rotation—Tim Hudson, Mike Hampton and John Thomson—for a good chunk of the first half, the Braves managed to stay in the thick of the NL East race, just 2 1/2 games behind surprising first-place Washington.

The Braves, who have won seven of their last 10 games, currently own a 4 1/2 -game lead over Florida in the wild card race.

Atlanta, which moved into the NL East during the strike-shortened 1994 season, has won a division title every year since 1991, when it captured the NL West crown.

The Braves will turn to left-hander Horacio Ramirez to keep their momentum going. Ramirez has won four of his last five starts, and his eight wins are one behind team leader and All-Star John Smoltz.

Atlanta’s other All-Star, outfielder Andruw Jones, continued his hot slugging in Detroit on Tuesday, hitting a two-run homer off Texas left-hander Kenny Rogers in the NL’s 7-5 loss.

Jones is tied with Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee for the major league lead in homers with 27. He has hit 15 since June 11, helping to compensate for Atlanta’s lack of pitching depth and the absence of injured third baseman Chipper Jones.

“It just feels good to play in an All-Star Game,” Andruw Jones said. “I had an opportunity to play and have a key hit. I just want to continue to play good baseball and help my team win.”

Hudson (strained left oblique) may be ready to come off the DL next weekend, while Hampton (forearm) could be ready to be activated this week.

After taking three of four from Washington last week, the Mets dropped two of three in Pittsburgh prior to the break.

“We just have to play more consistent ball,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “You look at the first half—we gave away a few games with poor situational hitting and making mistakes at the wrong times.

“To go to another level and win your share of games, you have to play real sound, crisp baseball.”

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Starting Pitchers

H. Ramírez LAA vs. K. Benson Ari
11-9 Record 10-8
4.63 ERA 4.13
80 K 95
67 BB 49
1.39 WHIP 1.26