Having made all three of his starts on the road since getting called up, Matt Harvey is looking forward to making his Citi Field debut.
The 23-year-old rookie, though, appears to have a tough task at hand with the surging Atlanta Braves coming to town.
Coming off their first home win in over a month, the New York Mets try to avoid a sixth consecutive defeat to the Braves as these NL East rivals open a three-game set Friday night.
After dropping nine straight at home for the first time since 2004, New York (54-58) finally came out on top during Thursday's series finale against Miami. Andres Torres went 3 for 3 with a homer and a season-high three RBIs in the 6-1 victory while R.A. Dickey threw a five-hitter to earn his major league best-tying 15th win.
"That nine-game streak that was stopped today is more important than the 15 wins," Dickey said.
Building on that victory, though, could prove difficult against the Braves (64-47). Atlanta has outscored New York 44-22 during a five-game run in this series and enters the weekend on quite a roll.
The Braves have hit .299 with runners in scoring position in winning 12 of 15 - the best mark in baseball since July 24.
Atlanta took two of three at Philadelphia with a 12-6 win Wednesday. Michael Bourn hit his ninth homer - two more than his total from the previous three seasons combined - while Dan Uggla had three hits and three RBIs.
"It's been just a constant grind for me," said Uggla, who entered Wednesday hitting .136 since June 6. "I've been struggling way too long and my teammates have picked me up."
Atlanta now gets its first look at Harvey (1-2, 3.86 ERA), who since earning the win and setting a club record with 11 strikeouts during his big league debut July 26 in a 3-1 victory at Arizona, has compiled a 5.73 ERA in losing his last two starts. He was tagged for five runs and eight hits over five innings Sunday in a 7-3 loss at San Diego.
"It was one of those days where I couldn't find the strike zone and when I did, it wasn't quality," he said. "When you make a mistake, they're going to hit it. (Sunday) they did and I just need to do a better job."
The promising right-hander, though, could bounce back in front of a home crowd that's been eagerly waiting to see him pitch.
"He said the other day, the one thing he's been looking forward to is pitching (Friday)," manager Terry Collins told the Mets' official website. "He's going to have 100 people here, it's going to be a very special night for him to pitch his first game at home in front of his friends and family, and I'm anxious to see it. There's going to be a build-up, and I'm anxious to see how he handles it."
Acquired from the Chicago Cubs before the trade deadline, Braves scheduled starter Paul Maholm (9-7, 3.75) held his own during his Atlanta debut Saturday but took the loss in a 3-2 defeat to Houston. The left-hander gave up all three runs on a pair of homers but struck out a season-best eight over seven innings.
"I thought he did a hell of a job," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Most nights, with our offense, you win that game."
Despite Saturday's disappointing result, Maholm is 5-1 with a 1.41 ERA over his last seven starts.
He had gone 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA over his previous four matchups against New York before scattering three hits over seven scoreless innings during a 3-1 win while with Pittsburgh on June 13, 2011.
|August 01, 2012||Jair Jurrjens||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|July 31, 2012||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|July 20, 2012||Matt Diaz||15-Day DL||Right thumb contusion|
|July 14, 2012||Jack Wilson||15-Day DL||Dislocated right pinkie finger|
|July 09, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||Day-to-Day||Broken right pinkie|
|July 09, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||15-Day DL||Broken right pinkie finger|
|New York Mets|
|August 02, 2012||Tim Byrdak||15-Day DL||Sore left shoulder|
|July 31, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Strained right thumb|
|July 31, 2012||Jason Bay||Day-to-Day||Bruised left calf|
|July 21, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|July 11, 2012||Dillon Gee||Day-to-Day||Bloot clot in right shoulder|
|July 08, 2012||Dillon Gee||60-Day DL||Blood clot in right shoulder|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Paul Maholm made David Ross ' fill-in night behind the plate a pleasurable one.
The left-hander pitched a three-hitter in his second start for Atlanta and the Braves got two-run homers from Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla to beat the New York Mets 4-0 on Friday.
"That was a lot of fun. That was a catcher's dream right there," said Ross, who was playing because Brian McCann was out with a sore shoulder.
Heyward connected in the first inning to help spoil Matt Harvey 's home debut with the Mets. Uggla went deep in the eighth off reliever Josh Edgin for his first homer in more than a month as Atlanta won for the 13th time in 16 games.
The Braves played their first in a stretch of 20 straight games, this one without Chipper Jones . The All-Star third baseman said he was out with back tightness caused by the bed in his New York hotel room.
Harvey (1-3) gave up just two hits in his fourth major league start but it took four innings before Mets fans got a glimpse of the pitcher who struck out 11 in his scoreless debut at Arizona on July 26.
"I was very impressed at how he settled down. He settled down and started making pitches. He got himself into a nice easy groove," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He has all the talent he needs to compete here. All he needs to do is make pitches."
Maholm (10-7) was brilliant from the start at a ballpark in which he has struggled. Coming in 0-2 with an 8.80 ERA in four games, three starts, at Citi Field, he faced the minimum through five innings.
"It was a masterful performance," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Acquired from the Cubs on July 30, Maholm pitched well enough to win his Atlanta debut a week ago, giving up three runs and six hits in seven innings. But he lost 3-2 to Houston, snapping a five-game winning streak.
He got back on track Friday. After Ruben Tejada reached on Maholm's error in the first, David Wright grounded into a double play. When Daniel Murphy singled to center field, Ronny Cedeno ended the second inning with a double-play ball to shortstop.
Maholm retired 11 in a row before Rob Johnson 's double in the sixth with one out. He got out of that jam by inducing two groundouts, the second a difficult play for shortstop Paul Janish . Andres Torres ' broken bat rolled along the ground right next to the ball, but Janish scooped up the grounder and avoided the shard.
"Anytime they got someone on base I executed pitches," Maholm said," and the defense made plays."
The shutout was the fourth of his career and first since May 28, 2011, for the Pirates against the Cubs.
Maholm struck out five and walked none in his sixth career complete game. He threw 95 pitches - 64 strikes.
The Mets were coming off a 6-1 win against the Marlins to snap a nine-game losing skid at home and were excited for Harvey's first start at Citi Field.
With about 100 friends and family among the 25,101 in the stands, Harvey threw a 93 mph strike to Michael Bourn on his first pitch. Things did not go so well after that. After a groundout, Heyward homered to right field on the first pitch, a 94 mph fastball. It was Heyward's 19th homer and first since he turned 23 on Thursday
Harvey needed 33 pitches to get out of the first and 52 in the first two innings. He walked five through three innings and had a close call in the third when Freddie Freeman 's grounder up the middle hit off his thigh.
But then he turned it around, showing flashes of the potential that made him a top prospect. The Mets' first pick in the 2010 draft - seventh overall - out of North Carolina retired nine straight after Ross doubled leading off the fourth.
"I did everything I could to figure it out as fast as possible, and I was able to keep the team close," Harvey said. "Walking people is not what I want to do. I was glad I was able to figure it out."
Harvey left for a pinch-hitter in the sixth. The 23-year-old right-hander walked five and struck out three.
Uggla's homer off Edgin ended the left-hander's scoreless streak at 10 1-3 innings. Freeman hit a bloop single with one out before Uggla sent a drive to left-center for his 13th homer and first since July 8.
NOTES: McCann had a cortisone shot in his right shoulder Tuesday and did not play Wednesday. ... The Mets signed right-hander Drew Carpenter to a minor league contract and assigned him to Double-A Binghamton. He made six relief appearances for Toronto this season and had a 5.00 ERA without a decision in nine games. Carpenter was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays and elected to become a free agent. ... Braves minor leaguer Darrel Leiva was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for steroids. Leiva pitches for the Dominican Summer League Braves. ... MLB made a scoring change in the Braves' game on July 31 against Miami. Freeman was given an RBI on a single to left field in the eighth inning when MLB executive vice president Joe Torre took away an error from left fielder Greg Dobbs . Originally, Dobbs was given an error when he blocked the one-hopper with his body and a run scored.