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.
|August 15, 2013||Tyler Pastornicky||15-Day DL||Torn left ACL - out for season|
|August 13, 2013||Dan Uggla||15-Day DL||Eye surgery|
|August 06, 2013||Jason Heyward||Day-to-Day||Strained neck|
|July 29, 2013||Reed Johnson||15-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|July 26, 2013||Gerald Laird||15-Day DL||Kidney stone|
|July 26, 2013||Gerald Laird||15-Day DL||Kidney stone|
|New York Mets|
|August 18, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||15-Day DL||Right elbow discomfort|
|August 17, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||Day-to-Day||Right elbow discomfort|
|August 10, 2013||Jeremy Hefner||15-Day DL||Partially torn ligament, right elbow|
|August 03, 2013||David Wright||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|August 02, 2013||David Wright||Day-to-Day||Strained right hamstring|
|July 31, 2013||Bobby Parnell||15-Day DL||Neck stiffness|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Zack Wheeler once again zeroed in on the Atlanta Braves .
The Mets rookie beat the NL East leaders for the third time, pitching shutout ball into the seventh inning and sending New York past Atlanta 5-3 Tuesday night.
"I feel pretty comfortable against them," he said. "Not to bash them, but it was a pretty easy game plan."
Wheeler improved to 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA against the team with the best record in the majors. He is the only pitcher with three wins over the Braves this year - there are just four teams that have beaten Atlanta more often this season.
Wheeler (6-2), raised in the Atlanta suburbs, defeated the Braves at Turner Field with six shutout innings in his big league debut in June, then topped them at Citi Field in July.
Now, another victory. All that success against the team he grew up watching is nice for him, he said, but "not so much for our friends back home."
Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis homered and speedy Eric Young Jr. sparked the Mets, stealing two bases, scoring twice and making a diving catch in left field.
Mets rookie catcher Travis d'Arnaud doubled for his first hit in the majors, ending an 0-for-10 rut.
"It was definitely weighing on me a little bit," he said.
Coming off a 12-strikeout performance at San Diego, the 23-year-old Wheeler came out zinging fastballs in the upper 90s mph. The righty was one strike away from throwing seven scoreless innings - instead, he left with the bases loaded and two outs, and reliever Carlos Torres gave up Andrelton Simmons ' three-run double.
Wheeler allowed six hits, struck out five and walked three. He drew a nice ovation when manager Terry Collins pulled him, and walked to the dugout with his head down.
"I wasn't sure he was going to give me the ball," Collins said. "It was going to be a wrestling match."
Byrd's two-run homer capped a three-run burst in the sixth off Brandon Beachy (2-1), who was making his fifth start since having Tommy John surgery 14 months ago. The Braves had won his previous outings.
"I thought he did fine, I really did," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Just that one inning, gave up three runs."
Wheeler briskly trotted toward the mound to begin the seventh with a 4-0 lead. He quickly retired the first two batters before Paul Janish doubled and pinch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich walked. Wheeler got ahead of Jason Heyward at 1-2, but wound up walking him to load the bases.
Collins signaled for Torres, and soon the game nearly was tied. Simmons cleared the bases with his double into the left-field corner and kept going to third when shortstop Omar Quintanilla sailed his relay home.
Torres backed up the play and caught the errant toss in the air, yet almost cost himself with a wild toss toward third that second baseman David Murphy alertly tracked down.
Reliever Scott Rice retired Freddie Freeman on a fly ball to protect the 4-3 lead. LaTroy Hawkins pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Byrd hit his career-best 21st homer and second in two days. Davis added an insurance run in the eighth with a drive into the top rows of the upper deck in right.
"I'm just glad I can come out and help the team. Hit big homers, not just like selfish homers, ninth inning, down by 10. Getting home runs that help the team win," Byrd said.
Young reached on Simmons' throwing error from shortstop to lead off the first, stole second and scored on Davis' two-out single. Young beat out a clever push bunt toward Simmons to start the sixth and stole his career-high 28th base.
NOTES: Heyward made a sparkling catch in right-center, diving onto the warning track to rob Juan Lagares of extra bases. ... Mets rookie C Travis d'Arnaud. ... Atlanta LF Justin Upton was a late scratch. He said he felt stiffness around his neck. Evan Gattis took Upton's place. ... Braves LHP Paul Maholm (bruised left wrist) is set to come off the DL and start Thursday night at St. Louis. ... Braves LHP Alex Wood (2-2, 2.61) starts Wednesday vs. Mets LHP Jonathon Niese (5-6, 4.25). ... Torres is still scheduled to start Friday night at home against Detroit. ... Mets All-Star 3B David Wright (strained right hamstring) says he's still optimistic about playing again this season. He said it would be important "to get back out there and try to finish up strong." There's no set timetable for his rehab. ... The Mets are 8-7 against Atlanta this year. ... Mets closer Bobby Parnell (herniated disk in neck) will undergo therapy and strengthening, and go back to doctor next week. He hasn't pitched since July and said surgery remains an option. An operation would require four to five months of recovery time, which would get him back for spring training.