The Atlanta Braves still have a chance to win the NL East, but staying in playoff position is the bigger focus for them.
The wild card-leading Braves look to draw closer to a postseason berth when they face the New York Mets at Citi Field on Saturday.
Since leading the division by three games over Philadelphia on Aug. 26, Atlanta (84-64) has gone 11-10 to fall three back of the Phillies, winners of 17 of 21.
The Braves could have lost even more ground in that race after falling behind 3-0 on Friday, but Jason Heyward(notes) capped off a six-run fourth inning with a three-run homer in a 6-4 win over the Mets.
“It’s great to be able to bounce back like that,” Heyward said after Atlanta opened a nine-game trip by avoiding a third consecutive loss. “You’ve got to be able to take advantage of every opportunity.”
Looking to win their first road series since Aug. 20-22, the Braves, who lead the wild card by 1 1/2 over San Diego, will give the ball to Tim Hudson(notes) (15-8, 2.62 ERA). The right-hander will be trying to avoid losing four straight starts for the first time since June 16-July 1, 2006.
The right-hander has gone is 1-3 with a 5.17 ERA in his last five outings, giving up a season high-tying six runs over five innings of a 7-3 loss to St. Louis on Sunday.
Hudson noticed during a bullpen session this week that his command may be suffering due to a problem with his mechanics.
“I’ve just got to focus on not rushing to the plate quite as much,” Hudson told the Braves’ official web site. “I’ve got to turn my intensity level down a little bit.”
Hudson, 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts against New York this season, is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two career starts at Citi Field.
After taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his major league debut - a 4-1 win at Washington on Sept. 7 - the right-hander allowed five hits in six innings of a 1-0, 10-inning victory over Pittsburgh on Monday.
“When you throw shutout innings, it has to translate into something positive,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “He has a chance to be a real decent pitcher at this level.”
Gee will get his first look at Heyward, who is 11 for 22 with two homers and 10 RBIs in his last five games against the Mets. The right fielder is in the top 5 among rookies in batting (.288), homers (18) and RBIs (71).
Atlanta has won nine of 12 against New York since losing the first four matchups this season.