If the Atlanta Braves hope to make up ground in the NL wild card race, they’ll have to do it without one of their best hitters.
Jones was a late scratch for the first game of the Braves’ doubleheader with Philadelphia on Sunday, an 8-7 loss, because of a sore left oblique muscle. He played in the second game, a 3-1 win in 11 innings, but aggravated the injury in the ninth and was removed from the game.
Manager Bobby Cox said that Jones would not play in the series against the Mets and could miss a week or more with the injury.
“It got me good,” said Jones, who was placed in the 15-day DL in July 30 with the same injury. “I’m fine as long as I make contact. That was really my first swing all day that I didn’t make contact.”
Second baseman Marcus Giles did not play Sunday after missing Saturday’s doubleheader, which the Braves also split. Giles returned to Atlanta for medical tests and said that he was told at a Philadelphia hospital he may have a heart defect.
The Braves (65-71) have won six of nine and are five games behind NL wild card-leader San Diego. They trail the Mets by 19 1/2 games, all but ending their streak of 14 consecutive division titles.
Closer Bob Wickman, acquired from Cleveland on July 20, blew his first save in 12 chances with the Braves in the first game Sunday, but converted an opportunity in the nightcap.
The Mets (84-51) have won 13 of their last 16, but fell 2-1 to Houston on Sunday despite limiting the Astros to just one hit. Carlos Delgado homered for New York’s lone run.
Carlos Beltran did not play after crashing into the fence and bruising his left knee on Saturday, but manager Willie Randolph said he could return for Monday’s opener.
Beltran needs one homer to become the third player in Mets history with 40 homers in a season. Todd Hundley holds the team’s single-season record with 42 homers in 1996.
Steve Trachsel (14-5, 4.98 ERA) will start the opener for New York. He won his third straight start and fifth straight decision on Tuesday, allowing three runs in six innings of a 10-5 victory at Colorado.
Trachsel is 12-1 in his last 15 starts despite a 5.21 ERA over that span, thanks to an average of 9.35 runs of support in those outings.
“I’ve had a few bad games, and it’s tough to get (an ERA) lower at this point of the season unless you pitch 25 scoreless innings,” he said. “But I have given us a chance to win most games.”
Trachsel can match Brad Penny of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the league lead in victories with a win. Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis’ Jason Marquis, both of whom also have 14 wins, also pitch on Monday.
Trachsel is 11-15 with a 4.92 ERA in 31 career starts against the Braves. He has faced them twice this season, going 0-1 with a 9.31 ERA.
Atlanta will counter with Chuck James (7-3, 4.02), who allowed two runs in seven innings of Wednesday’s 5-3 win over the San Francisco Giants. The rookie left-hander is 3-0 with a 2.32 ERA over his last five starts.
James has made three career appearances against the Mets, going 0-1 with an 18.90 ERA. His only start against them came on July 30, when he was pounded for seven runs in just one inning of a 10-6 loss.
The Mets have won eight of 12 against the Braves this season. The teams will close their season series from Sept. 26-28 in Atlanta.