After moving 32 games over .500 for the first time in 10 years, the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves continue their march towards the playoffs on Wednesday afternoon when they aim for a sweep of the three-game series with the New York Mets.
The Braves have put together a 31-12 record since the All-Star break and have taken eight of their last nine games. They enter this finale at 85-53 on the season, the most games they have been over .500 since ending the 2003 campaign 101-61.
Atlanta's offense was struggling for the second time in three games on Tuesday before the bats got going against New York starter Carlos Torres. Evan Gattis connected on a one-out solo homer in the seventh and Andrelton Simmons followed a Dan Uggla walk with his 13th home run of the season.
Craig Kimbrel later sealed the 3-1 win by extending his club record of consecutive saves to 34 straight.
"That's what we're about," said Simmons. "We always feel like we're in ballgames. Especially in games that close."
The victory lowered the Braves' magic number to clinch their first NL East title since 2005 to 10.
Torres had allowed just one runner to reach second base through the first six innings before his struggles in the seventh.
"The pitches we're getting by them early," said Torres. "I felt like I had good location with my pitches, but I need to be able to get it in more. Baseball usually comes down to one or two pitches, one or two at-bats. That's the way it goes."
Eric Young went 2-for-3 with a run scored, while Daniel Murphy drove in the lone run in the Mets' third straight setback.
The Mets do catch a bit of a break today as they will not face Atlanta starter Julio Teheran, who is having his turned in the rotation skipped to get him some extra rest. He is 11-7 with a 3.01 earned run average on the year, throwing 161 1/3 innings in his 26 starts. Teheran is expected to make his next scheduled start on Sept. 10.
The Braves will instead give the starting assignment to 31-year-old Kameron Loe, who makes his first start since 2007 with Texas. He makes his third appearance of the season with Atlanta and first since July 25.
Loe has pitched for three clubs this year -- the Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs and Braves -- and is 1-2 with an 8.15 ERA in 13 total appearances. The righty has never started against the Mets, but is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA versus them in five relief outings.
Dillon Gee hopes to salvage the finale today for the Mets and is 10-9 with a 3.63 ERA in 27 starts.
The right-hander has won three of his last four decisions and is coming off a 3-1 win over Washington on Friday. Gee allowed a pair of runs on six hits and a walk in 7 2/3 innings.
"I just want to give the team a chance to win every time I'm out there," said Gee, who has a 2.01 ERA over his last nine games. "I feel like if I do that then I'll be happy."
Gee threw seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball the last time he faced the Braves on July 22. The 27-year-old got a no-decision and is 3-4 with a 3.12 ERA in 11 career matchups with Atlanta.
The Braves have won 10 of 18 over the Mets this season.