A pair of National League East rivals begin the second half of the season against each other, as the Atlanta Braves take on the New York Mets tonight in the opener of a three-game series from Turner Field.
The Braves entered the break on a four-game winning streak and have won five of their last six games. They completed a three-game sweep in Philadelphia with a 4-3 victory on Sunday thanks to Brian McCann's solo home run in the top of the seventh inning. McCann ended with two hits and two RBI, and Dan Uggla also homered for Atlanta, which is four games off the lead in the NL East.
"We definitely needed this week. We've been kind of hot and cold," Uggla said. "(McCann) had a huge series ... I even chipped in today, how about that?"
McCann has homered in four straight games, posting 11 RBI in that span. He went deep in five consecutive games from July 15-19, 2006.
Jair Jurrjens got the win and allowed three runs in seven innings. Kris Medlen threw a scoreless inning of relief and closer Craig Kimbrel posted his 25th save with two strikeouts in the ninth.
Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons fractured the fifth metacarpal bone of his right hand sliding into second base and will be out for some time. The Braves will also host San Francisco on this upcoming homestand.
Taking the mound for the Braves tonight will be Tim Hudson. Hudson is 4-2 in his last six starts and tossed seven scoreless innings in a 5-0 win at Philadelphia on July 6. Hudson improved to 7-4 in 13 starts with a 3.56 earned run average. The veteran right-hander is 3-3 in seven home starts this season and 15-9 with a 3.46 ERA in 25 career starts against the Mets.
Meanwhile, New York ended June on a four-game winning streak, but has alternated wins and losses in seven games this month. The Mets lost two of three versus the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field before the All-Star break and dropped a 7-0 decision on Sunday.
Jon Niese was hammered for all seven runs and nine hits in seven innings.
Mets manager Terry Collins was optimistic even after the ugly defeat.
"We are in the hunt," said Collins. "We have to start next week realizing that we are in a fight and we have to get ready."
Daniel Murphy led the offense with three hits for New York, which is 4 1/2 games off the lead in the NL East. The Mets will visit the division-leading Washington Nationals for three games next week.
Mets pitchers Johan Santana (ankle) and Dillon Gee (artery) will not be at the disposal of Collins tonight, so Chris Young will toe the rubber. Young is coming off a rough start his last time out, a 9-2 setback versus Philadelphia in which he gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings.
Young has bounced back from shoulder surgery and has made six starts this season, allowing at least two runs in each. He is 2-2 in six starts with a 3.41 ERA and is 2-0 in three road assignments. Young, a right-hander, has made five career starts against the Braves, going 2-2 with a lofty 7.50 ERA.
New York has won four of six meetings with Atlanta this season.