The New York Mets were one of the biggest surprises of the first half of the season.
They were dealt a different kind of curveball during the All-Star break.
The Mets will try to overcome yet another injury to a member of their strong rotation as they visit the Atlanta Braves for the opener of this three-game set Friday night.
Not much was expected of New York (46-40) this season after it lost 85 games last year, but the club has remained in contention thanks in large part to a rotation that ranks third in the majors with a 3.55 ERA.
"I know right now we're in the hunt, and we like our chances because we like our club," manager Terry Collins told the team's official website. "If our pitching holds up, I'm thinking that on Oct. 3, we'll feel pretty good about it, whatever happens."
Maintaining that level of confidence, however, was made more difficult after the Mets announced Dillon Gee will undergo surgery Friday to replace a portion of a damaged artery. The right-hander was released from a New York hospital Wednesday after undergoing a procedure to break up a blood clot in his pitching shoulder.
The clot was discovered after Gee complained of numb fingers on his right hand following eight strong innings in a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
Gee, 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA, is likely to become the second member of the rotation to miss the rest of the year after Mike Pelfrey underwent elbow surgery in May. Gee was scheduled to start Friday in place of Johan Santana , who was moved to Sunday due to a twisted ankle.
"Big blow for us, but we all here are certainly hoping and praying that he gets back 100 percent healthy for next spring," Collins said.
Chris Young (2-2, 3.41 ERA) will take the mound instead, and he returned from major shoulder surgery last month.
Despite notching his fourth straight quality start, the right-hander was a 9-2 loser to Philadelphia on July 4. Young allowed three runs - two homers - in seven innings with no walks and three strikeouts.
The Braves (46-39), four games back of NL East-leading Washington, closed the first half with four straight wins, including a 4-3 victory at Philadelphia on Sunday.
Leading the way during the run has been Brian McCann , who has homers in each game and 11 total RBIs. McCann, who homered in five consecutive games July 15-19, 2006, has matched his home run production from the previous 43 contests, but he won't play Friday after being placed on paternity leave hours before the game.
"I've been working really hard to stay consistent," McCann said. "I've been feeling really good at the plate. Hopefully, I can continue this and help the team win in the second half of the season, because the first half, I was as bad as I'm going to get."
Tim Hudson (7-4, 3.56) looks to win for the fourth time in five starts. He rebounded from a dismal outing by limiting the Phillies to four hits over seven innings in a 5-0 victory last Friday.
Hudson is 1-3 with a 5.85 ERA in his last five home starts, but he's won four of his last six there against the Mets behind a 2.54 ERA.
The right-hander has also limited All-Star third baseman David Wright to a .206 average with two homers in 63 at-bats. Wright ranks third in the NL in average (.351) and fifth in RBIs (59).
|New York Mets|
|July 11, 2012||Dillon Gee||Day-to-Day||Bloot clot in right shoulder|
|July 03, 2012||Kirk Nieuwenhuis||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|June 23, 2012||Frank Francisco||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|June 16, 2012||Jason Bay||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 02, 2012||Mike Baxter||15-Day DL||Displaced right collarbone|
|May 31, 2012||Ramon Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|July 09, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||Day-to-Day||Broken right pinkie|
|July 08, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||Day-to-Day||Broken right pinkie|
|July 05, 2012||Jonny Venters||15-Day DL||Left elbow impingement|
|June 17, 2012||Brandon Beachy||15-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|June 16, 2012||Brandon Beachy||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right elbow soreness|
|June 13, 2012||Freddie Freeman||Day-to-Day||Left thumb discomfort|
ATLANTA (AP) -- It was a big day for Atlanta catcher Brian McCann , who celebrated the birth of his first child.
It was also a big day for his backup, David Ross , who helped power the Braves' offense in McCann's absence.
Ross homered and drove in four runs, Chipper Jones also connected and the Braves survived a crisis at shortstop to beat the New York Mets 7-5 on Friday night.
McCann was on paternity leave as his wife, Ashley, delivered a son on Friday. Ross said McCann sent a photo of the baby named, Colt.
"He wished me luck," Ross said. "I told him `Don't worry about me.' His life is about to change. ... I'm glad to play well for him."
The Braves started the day thin at shortstop. They chose to wait to replace rookie Andrelton Simmons , who broke his right little finger on Sunday and will be out at least a month. Atlanta then lost shortstop Jack Wilson with another pinkie injury.
"Well, the worse-case scenario happened," said manager Fredi Gonzalez, who said the team held off on making a move while exploring options through trades and in the minors.
Wilson dislocated the middle joint of his right little finger sliding while chasing a grounder in the fourth inning. Wilson's exit forced Martin Prado , the starter in left field, to play shortstop for the first time in four years.
The Braves said X-rays on Wilson were negative and he is day to day.
"We were able to hold on," Gonzalez said. "We were able to get a win with a minimal bench."
Gonzalez said he doesn't expect Wilson to be placed on the disabled list, but he said the team would add another shortstop before Saturday's game.
Jones hit his 49th career homer against the Mets in the sixth off Josh Edgin , who was making his major league debut.
Cristhian Martinez (4-1) pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. He gave up one walk with two strikeouts in one inning.
Craig Kimbrel earned his NL-leading 26th save with three strikeouts in the ninth.
Mets pitchers issued a season-high 11 walks and allowed 10 hits.
"A little frustrating," manager Terry Collins said. "Eleven bases on balls, 21 baserunners, you're not going to win many games.
"We've said it many, many times: When we pitch, we have a chance to win. And when we don't pitch it's tough for us, because we don't have a lot of power."
Ross had three walks, including a bases-loaded pass from Chris Young in the first inning.
Young (2-3) gave up five runs, six hits and three walks in three innings. His three walks came in the first inning, setting an ugly pace.
"I had trouble finding my rhythm early," Young said. "You're going to have nights like that over the course of the season. I needed to do a better job limiting the damage. Had I done so, I think we could have won the game.
"I just dug us in too big a hole."
Ross hit a three-run homer off Young in the third, driving in Jones and Freddie Freeman . The homer gave the Braves a 5-0 lead, but the Mets scored four runs in the fourth to knock Tim Hudson out of the game.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a two-run single, Scott Hairston drove in a run with a double and Ruben Tejada added a run-scoring single.
Wilson's right hand hit the ground as he slid while chasing a grounder by Nieuwenhuis into center field in the Mets' four-run fourth.
Prado played two games at shortstop in 2008. He appeared comfortable at the position, handling grounders cleanly in the fourth, sixth and eighth innings.
"He's really good wherever we put him," Hudson said.
Edgin, a left-hander called up from Triple-A Buffalo before the game, entered in the fifth after Miguel Batista loaded the bases with three walks. Edgin struck out pinch-hitter Juan Francisco and Michael Bourn to end the inning.
The Mets couldn't score after loading the bases with no outs in the fifth. Hudson gave up a single to David Wright before walking Ike Davis . Martinez walked Lucas Duda to load the bases before striking out Hairston and Nieuwenhuis and ending the inning on Jose Thole's flyball to center.
Edgin gave up two runs in the sixth. After Jones' two-out homer, Freeman doubled off Edgin and scored on Dan Uggla 's single off Ramon Ramirez .
Pinch-hitter Ronny Cedeno doubled off Braves left-hander Eric O'Flaherty and scored on a single by Andres Torres in the eighth.
Jones' homer left him tied with Mike Schmidt for second place on the career list for most RBIs by third basemen at 1,595. George Brett is first with 1,596.
Jones, who also had a double, has a 14-game hitting streak.
NOTES: A Turner Field power outage in the second inning caused a delay of 16 minutes. ... The Mets did not sign their second-round draft pick, RHP Teddy Stankiewicz of Fort Worth Christian H.S. in Richland Hills, Texas, by Friday's deadline. The Braves didn't sign C Levi Borders, an 11th-round pick from Winter Haven (Fla.) H.S. He is the son of former major league catcher Pat Borders . ... The Braves signed RHP Matt Kimbrel, the younger brother of Atlanta's closer. Matt Kimbrel was a 31st-round pick. ... Mets LF Jason Bay (concussion) was 0-3 with a walk as the designated hitter for Class A St. Lucie at Tampa. ... Collins said closer Frank Francisco , on the DL with a left oblique strain, will not throw on Saturday as had been planned. Collins said Francisco "just didn't feel right."... The Mets said RHP Dillon Gee , who was placed on the 15-day DL, had successful right shoulder surgery. He could miss the remainder of the season. ... The series continues Saturday as Braves RHP Tommy Hanson faces Mets All-Star RHP R.A. Dickey.