Mets-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

While the New York Mets were all smiles after a thrilling comeback win, staying upbeat could prove difficult at Turner Field.

The Mets look to snap their woes against the Atlanta Braves, who try to continue their home dominance Monday night in the opener of a five-game set.

New York (25-39) had dropped 10 of 12 before Sunday's 4-3 walkoff win over the Chicago Cubs. Marlon Byrd led off the ninth inning with a solo homer before Kirk Nieuwenhuis delivered a game-ending three-run shot.

"You don't forget about this. You build off of it, remember how much fun it is coming in the clubhouse, the celebration," said Byrd, batting .295 with seven homers and 12 RBIs over his last 15 games. "You try to build off it and keep winning games."

The Mets sit in fourth place in the NL East, 13 1/2 games behind the division-leading Braves (41-28).

"Winning is a good feeling no matter your record," said David Wright, batting .421 with two long balls and six RBIs over a nine-game stretch. "And a win is a win, no matter how it happens."

New York hasn't experienced many victories versus Atlanta lately. The Braves have hit .328 with runners in scoring position and clubbed 24 homers while taking 15 of 19 in the series by a 117-61 margin.

Atlanta has also thrived on its own field, going a major league-best 23-8 while posting a 2.32 ERA - by far the lowest mark in baseball. The Braves are coming off their 15th home win in 18 games, 3-0 over San Francisco on Sunday.

Julio Teheran threw six strong innings and Freddie Freeman collected three hits and an RBI. Hitting .333 with five homers and 28 RBIs in 28 home games, Freeman's .456 average with runners in scoring position ranks third in the majors.

"He's swinging it pretty good,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

The Braves will try to stay hot against Dillon Gee (5-6, 4.84 ERA), who's posted a 1.29 ERA with 26 strikeouts and three walks in 21 innings during a three-start winning streak. Dealing with tendinitis in his throwing elbow, the right-hander allowed one run and six hits over 6 2-3 innings in Wednesday's 5-1 victory over St. Louis.

"He had a little tendinitis and pitched great," manager Terry Collins told MLB's official website. "Ultimately, it didn't get any worse than it was, but I thought he pitched very, very well. I think he's back."

Gee is 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA in his last five starts against Atlanta. Jason Heyward is 7 for 15 with a homer against him, but Freeman is 2 for 14.

The Braves counter with Tim Hudson (4-6, 4.41), who's is 0-2 despite a 1.66 ERA in three starts this month.

"I feel like the last two or three times out, I'm right where I want to be," the veteran right-hander said. "I just don't have a whole lot to show for it from a wins standpoint. But if I just keep throwing the way I have been the last three or four starts, it's going to be a good year."

Hudson surrendered three runs and five hits over a season high-tying 7 1-3 innings during Tuesday's 3-2 loss at San Diego. He could like his chances of regrouping at home, where he's 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA in six starts, with the Braves winning each time.

Hudson gave up three runs in 7 1-3 innings in a 9-4 home win over New York on May 5, improving to 16-10 with a 3.61 ERA in the series. John Buck is 2 for 16 in their matchups.

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