Atlanta (73-71) at New York (82-61)

Partly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Tue Sep 11, 2007
  • TV: SPSO, SNY
Preview | Box Score | Recap

It’s taken nearly an entire season for the New York Mets to get their complete rotation healthy. As the pieces come together, the wait appears to have been worth it.

Orlando Hernandez (9-4, 3.32 ERA) returns to the mound Tuesday when the Mets continue a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.

Hernandez skipped his turn last week due to a sore right foot, and his return—plus Pedro Martinez’s last week—gives the Mets (82-61) a healthy rotation for the first time all season.

New York is hoping the extra time off doesn’t hurt Hernandez, who has been one of the team’s most consistent pitchers the last two months. Since June 29, the right-hander is 6-1 with a 3.84 ERA, and the Mets have gone 10-2 with him on the mound. He did not receive a decision in his last start on Aug. 30 after lasting just three innings. Hernandez gave up five runs and six hits—including three homers—in the 11-10 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hernandez is 3-1 with a 3.05 ERA in seven starts against the Braves (73-71). He does not have a decision against them in two outings this season, but has a 2.77 ERA.

Hernandez looks to add to a series of outstanding outings by Mets starters over the last two weeks. New York has won nine of its last 10 games, and all nine wins—most recently Monday’s 3-2 victory over the Braves—have come from the starting rotation.

On Monday, Oliver Perez, who spent time on the DL earlier with lower back stiffness, became the fourth straight starter to hold an opponent to two or fewer earned runs. He went seven innings, allowing two runs—on a homer by Brian McCann—and five hits while striking out seven.

David Wright hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to put the Mets up 3-0 en route to their fourth straight win. It was his 28th homer and gave him a team-leading 95 RBIs.

“Everything is starting to click at the same time,” Wright said. “It’s fun to just sit back and see the swagger that we have. That’s something that I think we’ve been missing a little bit this year, and we have that right now.”

The loss was Atlanta’s second straight, and dropped the Braves 9 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East. They are also five games behind the wild card-leading Padres.

“We know the calendar’s our enemy right now,” Monday’s starter Tim Hudson said.

Atlanta’s efforts Monday weren’t helped by the absences of Chipper Jones (strained muscle) and Andruw Jones (illness), who were scratched from the lineup minutes before the first pitch. Manager Bobby Cox said Chipper Jones was “doubtful” for Tuesday while Andruw Jones might be available.

The Mets, meanwhile, announced Carlos Delgado will miss the remainder of their nine-game homestand, which concludes with a three-game series against the NL East’s second-place Phillies this weekend. The first baseman has been out since last Wednesday because of a strained right hip flexor.

Buddy Carlyle (8-6, 5.21) will try to bounce back from a terrible outing and snap out of his recent funk. The right-hander, who has lost three of his last four decisions, lasted just 1 1-3 innings in a 5-2 loss to the Phillies last Tuesday, allowing three runs and four hits—including two homers—and three walks in his shortest start of the season.

Carlyle has given up eight homers in his last five starts, spanning 21 innings. His only start against the Mets was on Aug. 7, when he allowed three runs and six hits in five innings of a 7-3 victory.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Carlyle NYM vs. O. Hernandez Was
8-7 Record 9-5
5.21 ERA 3.72
74 K 128
32 BB 64
1.39 WHIP 1.17

Scoreboard

Tuesday, Sep 11