Atlanta (11-5) at New York (10-5)

Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 75° F
  • Game info: 1:10 pm EDT Sat Apr 21, 2007
  • TV: SPSO, WPIX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Given how inconsistently he’s pitched this year, the New York Mets aren’t sure what to expect from Oliver Perez as he steps on the mound Saturday.

The right-hander will try to move the Mets back atop the NL East as they continue a weekend series against the Atlanta Braves.

Perez (1-1, 3.72 ERA) has had two wildly different starts so far in 2007. He pitched seven innings of five-hit ball against Atlanta (11-5) on April 6, allowing only a home run by Jeff Francoeur with six strikeouts and no walks in an 11-1 road win.

Five days later against Philadelphia at Shea Stadium, Perez gave up seven walks and three runs over 2 2-3 innings of a 5-2 loss.

“I know I was wild, but not wild big time,” Perez told the Mets official Web site. Manager Willie Randolph chalked up Perez’s rough outing as “obviously a mechanical thing.”

In 11 starts at Shea—including two during the postseason—since being acquired from Pittsburgh on July 31, Perez is 3-4 with a 5.59 ERA. His only win at home during that stretch came against Atlanta on Sept. 6, when he tossed a five-hitter en route to an 8-0 win.

Atlanta’s Chuck James (2-1, 2.25) will try to rebound from his first loss this year. Pitching in cold and windy weather in Washington on Monday, James gave up three runs and five hits through five innings of a 5-1 loss.

“I felt good; I wasn’t cold or (anything),” said James, who gave up all his runs with two out in the third. “It was just that big inning. It happens sometimes. That’s just the way it goes.”

James started twice against the Mets (10-5) after last year’s All-Star break, but also was inconsistent. He gave up seven runs and seven hits through one-plus innings of a 10-6 loss on July 30 at home. But at New York on Sept. 4, though, James yielded one hit over eight innings of a 5-0 victory.

Atlanta jumped out to a big lead in the series opener Friday and cruised to a 7-3 win behind eight sharp innings from starter Tim Hudson. He scattered five hits, walked two and struck out three to improve to 3-0 with a 0.62 ERA.

“Too much Mr. Hudson tonight,” Randolph said. “Maybe the next time we get him he won’t be so good.”

Chipper Jones gave the Braves a 2-0 lead in the first inning with his fifth home run and scored a season-high three runs. Last season, it took Jones 40 games to hit his fifth homer.

Atlanta’s Andruw Jones, however, continues to struggle. He scored twice Friday, but went 1-for-3 and is hitting only .179. Jones has yet to hit above .200 this season, and is just 3-for-17 with six strikeouts in his career against Perez.

Moises Alou’s RBI groundout and Shawn Green’s two-run homer in the ninth— all off Rafael Soriano—helped the Mets, who lead the majors with a .297 batting average, avoid being shut out for the first time this season. The loss also dropped New York one half-game behind Atlanta in the division.

Mets third baseman David Wright was 0-for-3, ending his franchise-record hitting streak at 26 games. He’s hitting .235 (4-for-17) with one RBI and six strikeouts versus the Braves.

“Way more disappointed in losing the game than the hitting streak. It was fun while it lasted,” said Wright, who also hasn’t homered this season after hitting 26 last year.

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Starting Pitchers

C. James NYM vs. O. Pérez Ari
11-10 Record 15-10
4.24 ERA 3.56
116 K 174
58 BB 79
1.38 WHIP 1.31

Scoreboard

Saturday, Apr 21