Mets 3, Braves 2

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NEW YORK (AP)—Greg Maddux has some work to do.

With five starts left, his streak of consecutive 15-win seasons could come to an end. And he could even finish with a losing record for the first time since 1987, his first full season in the major leagues.

“Would I like to win 15, 16 games? Yeah,” he said Monday after getting a no-decision in the Atlanta Braves’ 3-2 loss to the New York Mets. “But it’s more important for me to put myself in position to make good pitches than it is to win games.”

The 37-year-old right-hander, 13-10 in 31 starts, allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings on a damp afternoon with intermittent rain. He faulted himself for getting the ball up to Jason Phillips, who hit a pair of singles off him.

“The ball’s going nowhere. Slow, wet grass. Perfect day to pitch,” said Maddux, 3-0 against the Mets this year.

After Maddux left the game, Timo Perez hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh off Trey Hodges (3-3) as the last-place Mets beat the division-leading Braves for just the sixth time in 17 meetings this year.

Maddux, who tied Cy Young’s standard with 15 straight seasons with 15 or more wins, came out for a pinch hitter in the seventh. The Braves loaded the bases with one out, but Gary Sheffield popped out and Jones flied out against reliever Dan Wheeler (1-2), who got his first major league win since beating Texas for Tampa Bay on May 23, 2001.

Atlanta’s Johnny Estrada hit into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play in the eighth off David Weathers, who barehanded the ball and threw home.

“Best changeup I’ve had all year,” Weathers joked. “I’m coming out with my fielding video next week.”

Atlanta stranded 12 runners in all, with Jones hitting an inning-ending, double-play grounder in the fifth against starter Jeremy Griffiths.

Weathers got five outs for his sixth save in seven chances. Sheffield doubled with two outs in the ninth and Chipper Jones was intentionally walked, but Weathers got Andruw Jones to fly out to right-center, ending New York’s three-game losing streak.

“We dodged some bullets,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “That is why I walked Chipper in the ninth inning. I didn’t want to tempt the fates to try to get him again with the tying run on second base.”

Atlanta had brief scare in the fourth when Sheffield fell, clutching his right leg, as he tried to catch Perez’s sinking liner in right field. Sheffield, who tore up a big chunk of turf, remained in the game.

“I thought he did something to his knee really bad,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Sheffield, who expects to play Tuesday, was wearing a pad on the leg to protect it against slides and said the pain came from the calf area. When he hit the turf with all his weight on one leg, he immediately thought of Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Michael Vick, who broke a leg in an exhibition game Aug. 16.

“I thought I sprained my ankle,” Sheffield said. “I know Michael Vick went down with something similar.”

Griffiths was brought up from the minors for the start, given to him because Aaron Heilman pitched poorly against Altanta last week. He was told about the start Saturday and traveled to New York from Norfolk, Va.

“I made a six-hour drive in about nine hours,” he said, citing holiday weekend traffic.

Griffiths allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He’s made three major league starts, and already has faced Maddux and Roger Clemens, both likely Hall of Famers.

“I’d like to get a hit off of one of them,” he said.

Griffiths impressed Maddux and Cox with the sink on his pitches.

“He’s going to be a good one,” Cox said. “He’s got tremendousmovement.”


A day after badly spraining his left ankle, Mets SS Jose Reyes was on crutches. He is to have an MRI Tuesday, but Mets physician Dr. Andrew Rokito already has recommended that he not play for a minimum of three weeks—there are only four weeks left in the season. … Atlanta was 3-for-3 in steal attempts against Mike Piazza, who has thrown out just 19 of 61 basestealers this season. … Joe McEwing, playing in place of Reyes, ranged far to make nice pickups and throw out Robert Fick in the sixth and Marcus Giles in the ninth. … Atlanta RHP Kevin Gryboski, who went on the DL Thursday, has a right labrum tear and doesn’t expect to pitch until the last week of the regular season. … Andruw Jones’ RBI infield single put the Braves ahead in the fourth, but the Mets took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half when Phillips hit an RBI single and scored on Marco Scutaro’s sacrifice fly. Rafael Furcal’s RBIsingle tied it in the fifth.

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