National League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, September 7th (All times Eastern)
Atlanta Braves (78-60) at New York Mets (65-72), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Atlanta - Paul Maholm (11-9, 3.79) New York - Jon Niese (10-8, 3.55)
(Sports Network) - One of Paul Maholm's best starts since being acquired by the Atlanta Braves came nearly a month ago versus the New York Mets.
The playoff-hopeful Braves hope to see a little more of that Maholm on Friday night as the lefty looks to bounce back from a rough start last time out in the opener of a three-game series in New York.
Maholm has gone 2-3 with a 3.96 earned run average in six starts with the Braves, who acquired him from the Chicago Cubs in an effort to strengthen their rotation for a playoff push.
The move worked on Aug. 10 at New York as Maholm hurled a three-hit shutout to win his second start with the Braves.
The 30-year-old struggled on Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies, tagged for seven runs on six hits and three walks while lasting just two innings. He did not get a decision as Atlanta rallied for an 8-7 win.
Atlanta looks to get its offense going on Friday, having been held to just two runs over its past three games. However, it has won two of those, consecutive 1-0 triumphs over the Colorado Rockies, with both runs in the two games coming unearned.
Tim Hudson put his team in position for the close victory in Thursday's finale, hurling seven scoreless innings of six-hit ball. Peter Moylan and Eric O'Flaherty combined for a perfect eighth before Craig Kimbrel worked around a one-out single in the ninth to nail down his 34th save of the season.
Martin Prado and Jayson Heyward finished with two hits apiece, while Juan Francisco scored the game's only run for the Braves, who have won four of their last five contests and hold the NL's first wild card spot.
"Good pitching is always good to have and I feel like we're just a bloop single away," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of his club, which finished 3-for-35 with runners in scoring position during the series. "It's just a matter of breaking it open."
The Mets were able to do just that in Wednesday's 6-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals as Ike Davis clubbed a three-run homer, while both Justin Turner and Mike Baxter scored twice.
R.A. Dickey yielded two runs over 6 2/3 innings, becoming the first Mets pitcher to win 18 games in a season since both Frank Viola and Dwight Gooden in 1990.
"He battled very, very hard today," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Dickey. "He didn't have his best stuff tonight but he continued to work."
New York left-hander Jon Niese tries to avoid a third straight loss on Friday, having not won since hurling 7 1/3 shutout frames to beat the Washington Nationals on Aug. 18.
Niese yielded three runs on nine hits over six frames of a 3-2 loss at the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 30.
"He threw the ball fine," Collins said. "He had the flu three days ago, so I thought he pitched very well."
The 25-year-old Niese is 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA in 26 starts this season and 5-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 10 lifetime meetings with the Braves. He was outstanding at home when he last faced Atlanta on Aug. 12, yielding a run over eight innings of a 6-5 win.
Niese will be the first to face Atlanta's Chipper Jones, who is set to play in his final series at New York. Jones, who will retire at the conclusion of this season, has haunted the Mets over his career, hitting .314 against them with 49 homers and 158 RBI in 239 games.
The Braves are 7-5 versus the Mets this season, but have lost four of six in New York.
09/07 10:43:31 ET