Mike Minor has dominated them lately, and the Braves will be looking to win his ninth straight start in the decisive finale of a five-game series.
Atlanta's rotation has a 2.31 ERA in nine games against New York this season, with 60 strikeouts compared to 13 walks in 58 1-3 innings. However, the Braves are just 5-4 in those games, greatly due to the bullpen's 10.22 ERA in the losses.
The Braves (43-30) haven't been defeated with Minor (8-2, 2.68 ERA) starting since New York did it in a 7-5, 10-inning victory May 3. Atlanta has since won all eight of his outings as he's gone 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
Even in that matchup with the Mets (27-41), Minor was in line to win as he left with a one-run lead after allowing three runs and three hits in seven innings. He was even better against them May 25, yielding three hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 6-0 victory. That outing improved the left-hander to 4-1 in eight starts against New York, including 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA in the last three.
Minor is 12-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his past 18 outings against NL teams, but the worst performance during his personal unbeaten streak came Saturday. He yielded five runs and seven hits in six innings before the Braves rallied to beat San Francisco 6-5.
"I thought I made decent pitches, and if they were hit a little bit harder, a little bit softer, it could've went the other way," Minor told the team's official website.
His counterpart Thursday has not had the same good fortune.
Jonathon Niese (3-6, 4.15) has a 1.93 ERA in his last five starts, but the left-hander is 1-6 over his past 10 as the Mets have averaged 1.6 runs with him on the mound.
Niese, among the NL's worst with 4.03 walks per nine innings, had four walks Saturday as he lost to the Chicago Cubs . However, he allowed only two runs and got through 5 2-3 innings in the 5-2 defeat.
"He battled into the sixth inning and didn't want to come out and that's what I want," manager Terry Collins said. "Guys who don't want to come out of the game."
Control issues also plagued him May 5 in Atlanta, tying a career high with six walks while surrendering seven runs in four-plus innings of a 9-4 defeat.
Justin Upton is 6 for 13 versus Niese but enters Thursday in a 2-for-23 slump. He's batting .157 without a homer in his last 18 home games.
Atlanta hasn't lost a series at Turner Field all season but must win Thursday to keep that streak alive. New York fell 2-1 on Monday before sweeping Tuesday's doubleheader behind pitching phenoms Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler .
The Mets haven't won a series against an NL team since taking two of three versus the Cubs from May 17-19.
|New York Mets|
|June 19, 2013||Scott Atchison||15-Day DL||Right groin strain|
|June 18, 2013||Scott Atchison||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore groin|
|June 17, 2013||Justin Turner||15-Day DL||Intercostal strain|
|June 08, 2013||Matt Harvey||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|May 30, 2013||Jonathon Niese||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|May 30, 2013||Ruben Tejada||15-Day DL||Right quad strain|
|June 18, 2013||Evan Gattis||15-Day DL||Oblique strain|
|May 29, 2013||Kris Medlen||Day-to-Day||Left game - left upper calf contusion|
|May 18, 2013||Eric O'Flaherty||15-Day DL||Left elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 13, 2013||B.J. Upton||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left shoulder contusion|
|May 12, 2013||Jordan Walden||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|May 12, 2013||Jordan Walden||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
ATLANTA (AP) -- David Wright wasn't looking forward to leaving Turner Field, not after his latest heroics against the Atlanta Braves .
But with the New York Mets heading to Philadelphia to begin a three-game series on Friday, Wright hopes his team can keep grinding out some wins.
"We've had our struggles here in Atlanta," Wright said. "But to come in, sweep that double-header and be able to win the rubber match today - in those close games, it comes down to bullpen, defense and timely hitting, and we've got all three of those."
Wright hit two solo homers, New York's bullpen pitched five-plus scoreless innings and the Mets overcame an injury to starter Jonathon Niese in a 4-3 victory over the Braves on Thursday night.
Niese left the game in the fourth with left shoulder discomfort and the Mets trailing 3-2, but the Mets' bullpen shut down Atlanta for the next 5 2-3 innings.
Closer Bobby Parnell earned his 11th save in 14 chances by facing the minimum in the ninth, retiring Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton on groundouts and B.J. Upton on a lineout.
LaTroy Hawkins (2-0), New York's third pitcher, earned the victory after allowing two hits and striking out two in two innings.
The Mets have won four of six, thanks in part to a bullpen that's 1-0 with a 1.55 ERA over the last nine games.
New York, at 28-51, is 12 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the division, but Wright knows that's better than being even further back.
"It's a good feeling to come in here and take this series against this team," Wright said, "because they're obviously one of the elite."
Mike Minor (8-3) allowed nine hits, four runs and two walks in six-plus innings for the Braves. The left-hander struck out six.
Wright, who went 3 for 4, has 32 homers against Atlanta - his most against any opponent - including 18 at Turner Field.
"He's a really good hitter," Minor said. "I threw a fastball over the middle of the plate. You can't do that. It was up and over the middle and then a hanging curveball that was up and over the middle."
In his last 14 games, Wright is hitting .407 with four homers and eight RBIs since June 5. It was his 20th multihomer game and second this season.
Atlanta used four singles in the third to go ahead 3-1. Chris Johnson 's RBI single scored Freeman from second and moved Justin Upton to third. Gerald Laird 's RBI single drove in Upton.
Those runs came off Niese, who winced in the fourth after making a pitch to Tyler Pastornicky . Niese motioned to the dugout that he was hurt and was done for the night after Collins visited the mound.
Niese, who gave up eight hits and three runs with five strikeouts in 3 1-3 innings, will fly to New York on Friday and visit an orthopedist. He said he felt fine until facing Pastornicky.
"It's never good when you have to leave a game, but on a good note, the doctor (at Turner Field) did some tests and everything was negative," Niese said. "It just felt really weak. I think the tendinitis kind of flared up again."
Wright gave the Mets a 1-0 lead in the first with his 10th homer and led off the fourth with his 11th to cut Atlanta's lead to 3-2.
After Wright's second homer, New York loaded the bases with no out, but Minor escaped the jam on Juan Lagares ' flyout and Omar Quintanilla 's double play grounder.
Andrew Brown 's pinch-hit homer to lead off the Mets' fifth tied to score at 3-all.
David Aardsma replaced Niese and pitched out of a jam with runners on first and second when Justin Upton lined out. After Hawkins faced four batters in the fifth and four in the sixth, Brandon Lyon faced the minimum in the seventh.
The Mets took a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh. Quintanilla doubled on the 10th pitch he saw from Minor and scored from second when pinch-hitter Josh Satin doubled down the right-field line to chase Minor.
"The solo home runs kept us in the game, gave us a little momentum, but it came down to the bullpen, defense and that big hit by Satin," Wright said.
NOTES: Niese missed a turn in the rotation with tendinitis in his left shoulder late last month, but avoided the disabled list. He received 12 days of rest before making his next start June 9, a no-decision against Miami in which he allowed two earned runs in 6 2-3 innings. ... Braves 3B Johnson committed three errors, including two on the same play in the ninth. ... Niese's road ERA rose to 6.66 in five starts this year. ... On a bobble-head night for B.J. Upton, the promotion's namesake went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts. Upton, who signed a five-year $75.25 million contract that's the biggest in franchise history, is batting.169 in his first season with Atlanta.