Coming off a disappointing series in Chicago, the Atlanta Braves will try to get back on track Monday when they open a four-game set with the National League East-rival New York Mets at Citi Field.
Atlanta, which entered Monday with a 6 1/2-game lead over Philadelphia in the division, dropped two of three at the Chicago White Sox over the weekend. The Braves lost Sunday's series finale, 3-1 as Evan Gattis, forced into a starting role in left field, drove in the team's only run. Sox left fielder Casper Wells robbed Reed Johnson of what would have been a game-tying, two-run home run in the eighth inning.
Mike Minor took the loss despite pitching his first career complete game.
"It's a cruel game at times, our game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Mikey probably pitched the best game of the year and he got nothing. He got an 'L.' That's all he got and that's a shame. That's the way our game is."
Braves outfielder Jason Heyward is expected to return to the lineup after missing the last six games with a strained right hamstring. Without Heyward, the team has gone 2-4, including Sunday's loss to the last-place White Sox. The timing is certainly ripe for Heyward's return, as he is 8-for-19 lifetime off Mets scheduled starter Dillon Gee.
New York has won three of four after Sunday's 5-0, series-clinching win over the Phillies. David Wright and Marlon Byrd hit back-to-back homers off Cliff Lee in the first inning, and Juan Lagares added a three-run blast in the fourth. Matt Harvey pitched seven innings of shutout ball to earn the win, as he allowed only three hits while fanning 10.
Now, the Mets will turn to Gee for Monday's series opener. The right-hander has already been unsuccessful twice against Atlanta this season, although he is coming off a solid showing at Pittsburgh his last time out. In that start, Gee did not allow an earned run over 6 2/3 innings.
"Stuff-wise, it probably wasn't the best day, but I was just trying to throw strikes," said Gee, who has posted a 2.73 ERA over his last four starts. "The guys got out there and got us an early lead and set the tone against a good pitcher. So I want to try to throw a lot of strikes after that and keep them off-balance."
For Atlanta, Julio Teheran looks to rebound from a subpar outing. The right- hander was tagged for five earned runs off seven hits against Cincinnati on July 14 and exited after 5 1/3 innings.
"I was feeling really slow," Teheran said after the 8-4 loss to the Reds. "My arm was feeling slow, and when I was warming up, I was like, 'I need to find another way to get deep in the game.'"
Teheran has failed to last six full innings in two of his last three starts, and he has allowed 12 runs (nine earned) over that span. He had pitched at least six innings in each of his 10 previous starts.
These teams have split the first 10 meetings so far this season.