Braves-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

Although his nine losses rank among the most in baseball, Kris Medlen may be able to lead the Atlanta Braves to rare consecutive July victories facing a team he's held down throughout his career.

The Braves will attempt to win two in a row for only the second time this month and stay perfect in Medlen starts against the New York Mets on Tuesday night.

After dropping two of three to open the second half, Atlanta (56-43) bounced back Monday by rallying for two runs off Mets closer Bobby Parnell in the ninth inning for a 2-1 victory at Citi Field.

Reed Johnson delivered the go-ahead RBI single as the NL East-leading Braves won for the seventh time in 16 games. Their only consecutive wins this month came in Miami on July 8-9.

Having Medlen (6-9, 3.64 ERA) on the mound against the Mets would figure to give Atlanta an excellent chance at winning two in a row again.

After going 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA over a six-start stretch, he has given up 11 runs and 17 hits over 9 1-3 innings in losses to Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

"I'm trying to make adjustments and it comes down to, in the game, making the adjustments stick," said Medlen after allowing four runs and nine hits in four-plus innings of a 4-2 loss to the Reds on July 12. "It hasn't gotten there for me.''

That certainly hasn't been the case when Medlen has faced the Mets (43-52). He's 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA in seven career starts against them - all Atlanta victories.

The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA and 16 strikeouts over 13 innings in two starts versus New York this season.

The Mets have been better offensively of late, averaging 5.5 runs while winning 10 of 16 before they were held to five hits in Monday's loss.

Marlon Byrd is hitting .333 with five homers and 16 RBIs in his last 17 games, while rookie Juan Lagares is batting .419 with nine RBIs over his last 11 contests.

New York is scheduled to send Carlos Torres (0-1, 0.79) to the mound for his second start after 10 relief appearances.

The right-hander pitched well in his rotation debut, allowing one run over five innings before the Mets' bullpen blew the lead in a 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh on July 13.

"He threw the ball great for as long as he could go," manager Terry Collins said. "He's going to be a good addition to our rotation.''

Torres makes his first career start against the Braves, though he's held them scoreless over 7 1-3 innings in four games out of the bullpen. He struck out four in 2 1-3 hitless innings in a 5-3 loss at Turner Field on June 19.

Jason Heyward returned to the Braves just in time Monday, making an outstanding diving catch with the potential winning run on base for the game's final out. Heyward, who went 0 for 3 with a walk, had missed six games with a right hamstring strain.

"I want to make every play I can,'' the Gold Glove outfielder said. "If I try to play it on the hop it probably gets by me. The safe way there was probably not the best.''

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