Braves-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

With his team maintaining its sizable lead in the NL East, the Atlanta Braves' Brandon Beachy can focus on continuing his recent resurgence.

Beachy tries to improve to 3-0 since returning from Tommy John surgery and help the red-hot Braves match their longest road win streak of the season in Tuesday night's series opener against the visiting New York Mets.

Atlanta (76-48) led its division by 15 1/2 games before going 6-3 during a nine-game homestand against NL East opponents that concluded as it took two of three from second-place Washington. In perhaps a preview of the rest of the regular season, the Braves kept four regulars out of the starting lineup in a 2-1 victory Sunday.

"It was just fun," backup catcher Gerald Laird said. "It's good baseball when you can give your starters a day off like this and go out and win a ballgame."

Beachy (2-0, 4.50 ERA) will try to help the Braves, winners in 19 of 22, in their pursuit of home-field advantage by adding to his string of promising starts. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last two outings after posting a 9.00 ERA in his first two games back.

He gave up two runs over six innings in a 6-3 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday.

"Each time I've felt like I've moved a little bit in the right direction," Beachy told the team's official website. "Coming off the first one, just to put some zeros on the board over the next few, now I feel like I'm starting to work on sequences, throwing pitches and breaking balls for strikes and things like that. Hopefully, I keep moving in that direction."

In this outing, he'll try to help the Braves improve their lackluster record against the Mets (57-66). Atlanta has dropped five of the last eight matchups and has split its 14 this season.

New York heads into this series after winning 6-1 at Minnesota in a makeup game Monday. The Mets next will seek a season-high fourth straight home victory while the Braves will try for a seventh consecutive road win.

Atlanta won its first seven games away from home.

Zack Wheeler (5-2, 3.43) will try to prevent the Braves from matching that streak with another dominant outing. The rookie right-hander has given up one run and pitched at least six innings in each of his last two games, striking out a career-high 12 before the Mets' offense scored three runs late in a 4-1 win in San Diego on Thursday.

"I think he's made a vast improvement since he's been up here," manager Terry Collins told the team's official website. "He's a very astute kid. You watch him, he pays attention. He's not walking around, enjoying his time. He's trying to get better."

Wheeler gave up four runs over six innings in a 7-4 home win versus the Braves on July 25 after shutting them out for six innings in a 6-1 win at Atlanta in his major league debut June 18.

Beachy did not get a decision in his only start against the Mets on Sept. 18, 2011, allowing four runs over 4 1-3 innings and striking out eight.

Marlon Byrd, batting .390 in his last 11 games, is 3 for 5 with a home run against Beachy.

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