Atlanta (50-35) at New York (47-38)

Partly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Fri Jul 9, 2010
  • TV: SPSO, SNY
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The NL East-leading Atlanta Braves enter a three-game set against the second-place New York Mets on Friday night having won 14 of their last 18 series.

To extend that surge heading into the All-Star break, the Braves will have to avoid a repeat of their previous visit to Citi Field.

A slow start gave little indication of Atlanta having any success as it dropped 14 of 22, including all three games in New York from April 23-25. That sweep was part of an 0-7 road trip - the franchise’s worst in 61 years - and first nine-game losing streak since 2006.

Since ending that skid, the Braves (50-35) are a major league-best 42-21, and have a three-game lead over the Mets (47-38).

Atlanta has helped its cause with three straight series victories over division rivals, and took two of three in Philadelphia earlier this week after dropping eight of its previous 13 road games.

Martin Prado(notes) had five hits and three homers during the wins over the Phillies to boost his NL-leading average to .336. The second baseman, who’s heading to his first All-Star game next week, enters the matchup with the Mets batting .369 in his last 38 games.

While Prado has been consistent lately, the team he’ll face next hasn’t. New York has dropped 10 of 18, gone winless in three consecutive series, and alternated losses and wins in its last seven home games.

The Mets bench took a hit when Fernando Tatis(notes) was sent to the disabled list Monday with a sprained right shoulder, leaving the team with one right-handed batter in reserve - catcher Henry Blanco(notes). That could have New York making a move before the series, especially with left-handers going 2 for 26 this season against Braves closer Billy Wagner(notes).

“We’ve talked about adding a right-handed hitter for Tatis, which you could possibly use with a left-handed stopper like the Braves have,” manager Jerry Manuel told the team’s official website.

Despite injuries and inconsistency, Manuel’s team managed to win its sixth consecutive series at Citi Field on June 27 but that run ended with Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Cincinnati.

R.A. Dickey(notes) (6-1, 2.62 ERA) will try to help New York bounce back by winning his first career start against the Braves.

Following his worst performance of the season, the knuckleballer nearly earned his seventh victory in eight starts by allowing two unearned runs in seven innings Saturday at Washington. The Mets bullpen, though, gave up four runs in the final two frames of a 6-5 loss.

Dickey has no record and a 15.00 ERA in two appearances against Atlanta.

The Braves will counter with Tommy Hanson(notes) (8-5, 4.19), who has appeared to get past a recent rough stretch.

Before Saturday’s 4-1 win over Florida, Hanson hadn’t gotten out of the fourth inning in back-to-back losses. Against the Marlins, he allowed one unearned run while striking out eight.

“I think that’s the biggest thing I could take away from those two bad outings: Just trust my stuff and stay aggressive,” Hanson said.

Hanson allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings in his only start last season against the Mets but was on the wrong end of a 1-0 decision in a rain-shortened, 5 1/2-inning game April 25.

The teams split two games in Atlanta from May 17-18 with both decided by 3-2 margins.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Hanson Tex vs. R. Dickey Tor
10-11 Record 11-9
3.33 ERA 2.84
173 K 104
56 BB 42
1.17 WHIP 1.19

Scoreboard

Friday, Jul 9