Mets-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves continue to strike out at an alarming rate.

Shawn Marcum isn't known as a strikeout pitcher, but even he had a career day in that category against the Braves a few weeks ago.

A day after struggling to put the ball in play against the New York Mets' pitching phenoms, Atlanta takes on the winless Marcum and looks to avoid losing a series at home for the first time all season Wednesday night.

The Braves (42-30) have struck out 645 times, leading the NL by a wide margin. They had 24 on Tuesday, with 20 coming from young starters Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler as the Mets swept a doubleheader. Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson each struck out three times on the day, Dan Uggla had two to run his league-high total to 89 and Justin Upton added his 82nd - third-most in the NL.

"It's just been a rough last 24 hours," said B.J. Upton, who has 75 strikeouts.

It will be a bad 48 hours if Atlanta loses this one, especially considering it would mark the team's first series loss at Turner Field since dropping two of three to Philadelphia from Aug. 31-Sept. 2. Monday's 2-1 win in the opener of this four-game set was the 16th victory in 19 home games for the Braves, who are a major-league best 24-10 at home.

Marcum (0-8, 5.43 ERA), meanwhile, has fanned just 47 batters in 54 2-3 innings this year. However, the seven-year veteran posted his career high of 12 on May 26 against Atlanta, including three of Freeman. Marcum allowed a two-run homer to Uggla but only three other hits in seven innings of New York's 4-2 victory.

Of the right-hander's 10 appearances - eight starts - this season, the only two times New York won came versus the Braves. He's 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA in five career games against them. Johnson and Jason Heyward are each 1 for 12 against him with a combined 12 strikeouts.

Marcum pitched eight innings of one-run ball in relief in a 2-1, 20-inning loss to Miami on June 8, but followed that with a poor start Friday against the Cubs as he was tagged for six runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-3 loss.

"Shaun is a professional. He knows you've got to go out and get the job done," manager Terry Collins said. "He just got off to a bad start. I'm sure he wishes he could take a couple pitches back."

Marcum, who has received just 12 runs of support in eight starts this season, is hoping New York's late offensive outburst Tuesday carries into Wednesday. The Mets (27-40) tacked on four runs in the eighth inning to help secure a 6-1 victory in the nightcap, their highest-scoring game since June 5. The Mets finished with 14 hits, ending a streak of nine straight games with nine or fewer.

David Wright had two hits in that game and is batting .452 in his last eight. Marlon Byrd went 5 for 8 in the doubleheader.

The Mets will be hard-pressed to repeat their success against Kris Medlen (3-7, 3.09), who has been dominant against New York. He's never lost in 16 games versus the Mets, posting a 1.92 ERA, and is 3-0 in six starts against them. He struck out a season-high nine in six innings against the Mets on May 24, allowing three runs in a 7-5, 10-inning victory.

After recording one win in 11 starts through May, Medlen won his first two this month before losing Friday. The right-hander yielded four runs and nine hits in six innings of a 6-0 defeat to San Francisco, receiving no runs of support for the fourth time in seven starts.