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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, August 21st (All times Eastern)

Atlanta Braves (76-49) at New York Mets (58-66), 1:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Atlanta - Alex Wood (2-2, 2.61) New York - Jonathon Niese (5-6, 4.25)

(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Braves almost erased an uncomfortable deficit against the New York Mets in the opener of their two-game set, so they'll try for a split Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field.

The Braves were down, 4-0, and rallied for three runs in the seventh inning to pull within a run. Ike Davis, though, gave the Mets some breathing room by leading off the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo home run.

Brandon Beachy was trying to improve to 3-0 since returning from Tommy John surgery, but was dealt the loss for giving up four runs, three of which were earned, and five hits in six innings. A three-run sixth inning put Beachy in a tough situation.

"I was hitting spots. When I'm hitting spots and getting ahead, putting guys on their heels a little bit, mixing it up well, I'm pretty effective," Beachy said. "But I just kind of ran into a buzz saw there in the sixth inning."

Andrelton Simmons provided the scoring with a three-run double in the top of the seventh inning and Freddie Freeman was the only Brave with multiple hits, going 2-for-4.

Braves outfielder Justin Upton was scratched from Tuesday's lineup with a left upper back strain and could return for Wednesday's finale with New York. Upton was replaced by Evan Gattis, who was 0-for-4, and is hitting .269 with 23 homers and 62 RBI this season.

"You get muscle tightness, things lock up," Upton told Atlanta's website. "You just give it a little bit of time and it'll work itself out. Obviously, getting treatment and stuff like that, hopefully it feels better tomorrow. You just never know."

Atlanta had won four of five games before Tuesday's loss and still have a commanding 15-game lead over Washington in the NL East. The club will visit St. Louis for four games, starting Thursday at Busch Stadium.

Taking the mound for the Braves this afternoon will be Alex Wood. Wood is 2-2 with a 2.61 earned run average in 21 games (6 starts) and has pitched well in his last three trips to the mound, going 1-0 with a 0.98 earned run average. He threw 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in Friday's 3-2 win over the Nationals, struck out nine batters and did not issue a walk.

Wood has faced the Mets twice so far during his rookie campaign and sports an 0-1 mark to go along with a 6.14 ERA.

New York opened a nine-game homestand Tuesday and has won two in a row and four of its last six games.

Marlon Byrd hit a two-run home run in that important sixth inning and Eric Young scored twice. Mets young starting pitcher Zack Wheeler was solid through 6 2/3 innings and yielded three runs with five K's and three walks. LaTroy Hawkins picked up his fifth save with a scoreless ninth.

"I felt pretty comfortable against them. I mean no bash on them, but it's an easy gameplan," Wheeler said. "Dan (Warthen) has a good gameplan going in ... and Travis (d'Arnaud) did a nice job calling the game."

The Mets still have Detroit and Philadelphia paying visits to Citi Field and hope Jonathon Niese can complete the sweep over the Braves Wednesday. Niese has won back-to-back starts and the Mets are unbeaten in his last three outings. He struck out nine and allowed a run in six innings of Friday's 5-2 win at San Diego, improving to 5-6 in 16 starts with a 4.25 ERA.

Niese has faced the Braves twice this season and is 0-1 with a lofty 12.27 ERA. In 14 career starts in this series, the left-hander has a winning record at 6-4 with a 3.83 ERA. Niese, though, is 1-4 in nine home starts.

New York is 8-7 against the Braves this season and has won three of the last four matchups between the NL East foes.

08/21 10:35:26 ET

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