New York (72-80) at Atlanta (87-65)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 1:35 pm EDT Sun Sep 18, 2011
  • TV: SNY, FSS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Atlanta Braves’ recent slump contributed to tightening the NL wild-card race, though lately they’re doing what’s necessary to hold onto their slim lead.

Earning a victory with Brandon Beachy(notes) starting would be another step in the right direction.

The right-hander takes the mound Sunday in search of his first win this month as Atlanta concludes its three-game set against the New York Mets at Turner Field.

The Braves (87-65) lost seven of nine games from Sept. 5-12, allowing St. Louis to cut its wild-card deficit from 8 1/2 games to 3 1/2 heading into Saturday.

Atlanta has bounced back to win three of its last four, including Saturday’s 1-0 victory over New York. It gained a game on the Cardinals, who lost 9-2 in Philadelphia later that night.

“Considering where we are, how we’ve let some games slip in the last week or two, I think this was a huge win,” starter Tim Hudson(notes) told the team’s official website after allowing four hits in eight innings. “Losing wasn’t an option today.”

The Braves may want to have that same mentality with Beachy (7-2, 3.43 ERA) on the mound.

Beachy hasn’t lost since July 19, but the Braves have been defeated the last three times he’s taken the mound. He’s 4-0 with a 3.03 ERA and 71 strikeouts in his last 10 starts, in which Atlanta has gone 5-5.

He allowed four runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings Monday in the Braves’ 5-4, 12-inning loss to Florida - only the third time during that stretch he’s surrendered more than three earned runs.

Beachy has never faced the Mets, and he may look for some offensive help from Chipper Jones(notes), who drove in Saturday’s only run with a single in the eighth inning.

Jones requested to be dropped to the No. 3 spot in the batting order rather than hitting second, then delivered what proved to be the game-winning hit. He’s hitting .340 over his last 12 games.

“It’s been a tough go of it lately, but hopefully today will stop that,” Jones said of the Braves’ recent play.

Jones, though, is 0 for 7 lifetime against Mets starter Dillon Gee(notes) (12-6, 4.37).

Gee has allowed two or fewer earned runs in three of his last five starts, but he’s given up at least six in the other two outings. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.49 ERA in that span after not earning a decision in New York’s 3-2 loss Tuesday to Washington.

“He’ll hit a wall. But he’s pitched very good,” manager Terry Collins told the team’s official website. “I don’t see any reason that he won’t go out and pitch well Sunday.”

His most recent loss came Sept. 8, when he gave up three runs - two earned - in six innings in a 5-1 defeat to Atlanta. It dropped Gee to 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA in five starts against the Braves this season, including 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA in two at Turner Field.

The Mets (72-80) look to rebound after being shut out for the second time in four games. They won 12-2 in the series opener Friday, their only victory in their last eight games while scoring two or fewer runs in five of them.

Jose Reyes(notes) went 0 for 3 on Saturday, but he’s hitting .396 with three doubles and three triples in his last 14 games versus the Braves.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Gee NYM vs. B. Beachy Atl
13-6 Record 7-3
4.43 ERA 3.68
114 K 169
71 BB 46
1.38 WHIP 1.21

Scoreboard

Sunday, Sep 18