After an all-around off night ended their winning streak, the Atlanta Braves hope to regroup behind a pitcher who has been stellar at Turner Field.
The left-hander looks to continue both those strong runs Monday in the opener of a three-game series.
After totaling 20 runs during its six-game winning streak, Atlanta came up empty in a 7-0 loss to Miami on Sunday. Justin Upton went 1 for 4 after missing two starts with a left hand contusion, while NL batting-leader Chris Johnson is expected to return to the lineup after being limited to pinch-hitting duty due to minor leg soreness.
The Braves (83-53), who lead the NL East by 14 games, rank last in the majors with 34 runs since Aug. 18. They've made up for those struggles, however, by posting baseball's third-lowest ERA (2.87) over that span.
Atlanta might not need much scoring with Maholm (9-10, 4.37 ERA) taking the mound against the Mets (62-73).
After allowing five runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 6-2 loss at St. Louis on Aug. 22 in his first start in more than a month due to a left wrist contusion, Maholm limited Cleveland to one run over six innings before Atlanta pushed across a run in the ninth for a 3-2 victory at Turner Field on Wednesday.
Maholm hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his eight home starts, going 5-2 with a 1.88 ERA.
"My goal for the whole month of September is to get back to (the playoffs) and for them to have confidence in me going forward," Maholm told the team's official website.
He's also had New York's number of late, going 3-1 with an 0.64 ERA while holding them to a .196 batting average in his last four starts. He was a tough-luck loser in the last outing, however, giving up two runs in seven innings of a 6-1 defeat June 18.
Daniel Murphy is 1 for 3 against Maholm this season and 8 for 15 with three RBIs lifetime. The second baseman has also gone 12 for 21 with five doubles in his last five games overall.
Although the Mets have averaged 7.5 runs while hitting .333 in their last four games, they had their three-game winning streak snapped in Sunday's 6-5 loss at Washington.
New York's bullpen failed to hold a 5-2 lead in the seventh inning, and its relievers could become a factor again in this contest if Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 8.68) is unable to turn things around.
The veteran right-hander has allowed nine runs and 12 hits in two starts since signing with the Mets on Aug. 22. He gave up four runs and six hits over 4 1-3 frames in Wednesday's 6-2 loss to Philadelphia.
"I will tell you - his stuff's good enough," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "When he commands it, he's going to get outs, because it's good enough."
Matsuzaka is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two career starts against the Braves, but hasn't faced them since 2009 while with Boston.
He might have his hands full with Freddie Freeman , who is hitting .357 with four homers and 11 RBIs in his last 15 games versus the Mets. Dan Uggla is batting .375 with five homers and 10 RBIs in his last 19 against them.
|New York Mets|
|September 01, 2013||Ike Davis||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right oblique|
|August 27, 2013||Matt Harvey||15-Day DL||Torn right UCL - out for season|
|August 26, 2013||Matt Harvey||Day-to-Day||Torn right elbow ligament|
|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 29, 2013||Justin Upton||Day-to-Day||Left hand injury|
|August 22, 2013||Jason Heyward||15-Day DL||Fractured right jaw|
|August 21, 2013||Brandon Beachy||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|August 20, 2013||Justin Upton||Day-to-Day||Strained upper back|
|August 15, 2013||Tyler Pastornicky||15-Day DL||Torn left ACL - out for season|
|August 13, 2013||Dan Uggla||15-Day DL||Eye surgery|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Freddie Freeman had never faced Daisuke Matsuzaka and said he didn't bother looking at video to prepare for the right-hander. It didn't matter. All Freeman had to see was see Matsuzaka's Mets uniform.
Freeman homered, doubled and tied a career high with five RBIs, powering the Atlanta Braves past New York 13-5 on Monday.
Freeman has thrived against Mets pitching this season, hitting .349 (23 of 66) with five homers and 16 RBIs. For his career, he has 11 homers and 42 RBIs against the Mets, his best totals against any opponent.
Freeman put the Braves ahead with a two-run double off Matsuzaka in the first inning. Freeman made it 6-1 with a three-run homer a dozen rows deep into the right-field seats in the second.
"When you go out there and face guys you haven't seen, my approach is to go up there and be aggressive," Freeman said. "It was kind of easier with guys on base. They have to come after you and they don't want to walk you and load up the bases. He was aggressive and I took advantage of his mistakes."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Freeman "gave us a couple great at-bats on a tough day to play well. The first two innings took about an hour"
Each starting pitcher struggled in the slow-paced game which lasted 3 hours, 41 minutes.
Matsuzaka (0-3) allowed six runs on seven hits in only three innings. He has a 10.95 ERA in three starts since signing with the Mets.
"You guys saw the results. I'm very disappointed in myself today," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "The difference between my good pitches and my bad pitches was too big and that's something that's needs to change."
Paul Maholm (10-10) snapped his four-game losing streak despite struggling with his control. He yielded three runs on six hits and three walks.
"Paul probably didn't have his best command, but he battled to stay in the game," Gonzalez said.
Maholm needed 100 pitches to make it through five innings.
"I would like to take care of the bullpen for more than five innings," Maholm said.
Mets manager Terry Collins said he expects to stick with Matsuzaka for at least one more start. Collins said the right-hander must pitch deeper into games.
"He's got to get going for us because we've got a lot more games to play this month and he's going to be a part of those games right now," Collins said. "But he's got to get it going.
"We need him for innings and that's why we got him."
Jordan Schafer got four hits and stole three bases for Atlanta before leaving with a lower back strain. Andrelton Simmons drove in three runs.
The NL East-leading Braves, who matched their season high for runs, have won seven of eight.
Josh Satin hit two doubles for New York.
The Mets, who lost at Washington on Sunday night, arrived at their team hotel in Atlanta about 4 a.m. on Monday, followed by their luggage about 30 minutes later. That left players only a few hours to sleep before the bus trip to Turner Field for the 1:10 p.m. start.
Matsuzaka, 32, was released by Cleveland on Aug. 20 and signed with the Mets two days later. He is 0-7 in his last eight starts since Sept. 2, 2012, with Boston.
Simmons' double in the fifth off Gonzalez Germen drove in Chris Johnson and B.J. Upton. Justin Upton doubled off Pedro Feliciano in the sixth and scored on Brian McCann 's single. B.J. Upton's double drove in McCann for a 10-3 lead.
Matsuzaka had an RBI single in the second. Zach Lutz had a pinch-hit double in the Mets' two-run fourth.
NOTES: The Braves said Schafer is day to day. Gonzalez said Schafer may have had "just a little back spasm" on a swing before his fourth hit. ... Atlanta also scored 13 runs in a 13-3 win at Philadelphia on July 6. ... Matsuzaka recorded his first career RBI with a single in the second. ... The Braves recalled RHP Kameron Loe from Triple-A Gwinnett and announced he will start against the Mets Wednesday, giving RHP Julio Teheran a rest. ... The series continues Tuesday night when Braves RHP Kris Medlen faces Mets RHP Carlos Torres .