With his team maintaining its sizable lead in the NL East, the Atlanta Braves' Brandon Beachy can focus on continuing his recent resurgence.
Beachy tries to improve to 3-0 since returning from Tommy John surgery and help the red-hot Braves match their longest road win streak of the season in Tuesday night's series opener against the visiting New York Mets.
Atlanta (76-48) led its division by 15 1/2 games before going 6-3 during a nine-game homestand against NL East opponents that concluded as it took two of three from second-place Washington. In perhaps a preview of the rest of the regular season, the Braves kept four regulars out of the starting lineup in a 2-1 victory Sunday.
"It was just fun," backup catcher Gerald Laird said. "It's good baseball when you can give your starters a day off like this and go out and win a ballgame."
Beachy (2-0, 4.50 ERA) will try to help the Braves, winners in 19 of 22, in their pursuit of home-field advantage by adding to his string of promising starts. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last two outings after posting a 9.00 ERA in his first two games back.
He gave up two runs over six innings in a 6-3 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday.
"Each time I've felt like I've moved a little bit in the right direction," Beachy told the team's official website. "Coming off the first one, just to put some zeros on the board over the next few, now I feel like I'm starting to work on sequences, throwing pitches and breaking balls for strikes and things like that. Hopefully, I keep moving in that direction."
In this outing, he'll try to help the Braves improve their lackluster record against the Mets (57-66). Atlanta has dropped five of the last eight matchups and has split its 14 this season.
New York heads into this series after winning 6-1 at Minnesota in a makeup game Monday. The Mets next will seek a season-high fourth straight home victory while the Braves will try for a seventh consecutive road win.
Atlanta won its first seven games away from home.
Zack Wheeler (5-2, 3.43) will try to prevent the Braves from matching that streak with another dominant outing. The rookie right-hander has given up one run and pitched at least six innings in each of his last two games, striking out a career-high 12 before the Mets' offense scored three runs late in a 4-1 win in San Diego on Thursday.
"I think he's made a vast improvement since he's been up here," manager Terry Collins told the team's official website. "He's a very astute kid. You watch him, he pays attention. He's not walking around, enjoying his time. He's trying to get better."
Wheeler gave up four runs over six innings in a 7-4 home win versus the Braves on July 25 after shutting them out for six innings in a 6-1 win at Atlanta in his major league debut June 18.
Beachy did not get a decision in his only start against the Mets on Sept. 18, 2011, allowing four runs over 4 1-3 innings and striking out eight.
Marlon Byrd, batting .390 in his last 11 games, is 3 for 5 with a home run against Beachy.
The Associated Press News Service
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