Atlanta (63-57) at New York (56-64)

Partly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Thu Aug 20, 2009
  • TV: SPSO, WPIX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Two big innings have highlighted the latest series between the NL East rival Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. Johan Santana’s(notes) last inning on the mound was certainly compelling in its own right.

After their most productive game of the season, the Braves face Santana on Thursday night following his emotional last start.

Atlanta (63-57) and New York (56-64) have split the first two games of this three-game set, becoming the first teams to exchange innings of eight runs or more on consecutive days of the same series since Cleveland and the Yankees did it July 4-5, 2006.

In the opener, the Mets had a season-high eight runs and a franchise-record 10 hits in the fourth inning of a 9-4 win Tuesday night. The following evening, the Braves had a season-high seven hits en route to scoring eight runs in the second of a 15-2 victory.

“It could have crushed us but I was very proud the way we bounced back and put it right back on them,” Braves Matt Diaz(notes) said.

Atlanta finished with a season-high 18 hits in its best scoring game of the year.

Santana (13-8, 3.10 ERA) has had little trouble shutting down the Braves, posting a 1.96 ERA in seven starts against them. The left-hander, though, is 1-4 over that span, never getting more than two runs to work with.

He’ll also be trying to settle down after an event-filled last outing in which he took it upon himself to retaliate after teammate David Wright(notes) was hit in the helmet by a pitch in New York’s 5-4, 10-inning loss to San Francisco on Saturday.

Wright, now on the 15-day disabled list due to a concussion, was sent to the hospital after being hit by a Matt Cain(notes) fastball in the fourth inning. Three innings later, Santana threw a pitch behind Giants first baseman Pablo Sandoval(notes), then hit catcher Bengie Molina(notes) before being taken out by Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

Santana allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. He has surrendered at least four runs in three of his last five outings.

Atlanta will counter with Kenshin Kawakami(notes) (5-9, 4.13). He has not won since July 8 against the Chicago Cubs, losing three decisions since then.

The right-hander gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings of Atlanta’s 4-3 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday.

Kawakami, a 34-year-old rookie, lost each of his two starts against the Mets despite posting a 3.09 ERA. Atlanta failed to score a run for Kawakami in both contests.

He’ll face a New York lineup missing most of its regulars due to injuries. Mets second baseman Luis Castillo(notes) remains healthy, however, and is batting .391 over his last 35 games.

Castillo, though, was removed after the fourth inning Wednesday when he failed to cover second base on Garret Anderson’s(notes) two-out grounder to shortstop with runners on the corners. Atlanta scored five runs after that gaffe.

It was yet another mental lapse for the three-time Gold Glove winner, who cost the Mets a win when he dropped a ninth-inning popup in a 9-8 loss to the Yankees on June 12, allowing two runs to score.

The Braves got a productive game from second baseman Omar Infante(notes), who had three hits and three RBIs. First baseman Adam LaRoche(notes), meanwhile, has homered in three straight games and six times since joining Atlanta in a trade with Boston on July 31.

“Rochey’s hot,” manager Bobby Cox said. “He’s really swinging the bat well.”

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Starting Pitchers

K. Kawakami Atl vs. J. Santana Tor
7-12 Record 13-9
3.86 ERA 3.13
105 K 146
57 BB 46
1.34 WHIP 1.21

Scoreboard

Thursday, Aug 20