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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Preview : 2011 Regular Season Game 67 - Mets at Braves

New York Mets (32-34) at Atlanta Braves (38-29), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - Jonathon Niese (5-5, 3.51) Atlanta - Jair Jurrjens (8-2, 1.82)

National League earned run average leader Jair Jurrjens aims for the top spot in wins as well tonight when the Atlanta Braves host the New York Mets in the opener of a three-game series at Turner Field.

Jurrjens, a 25-year-old native of Curacao, has posted a stingy 1.82 ERA through his initial 11 starts and 79 innings of 2011 while holding opposing batters to a .233 average.

The ERA mark is more than half a run better than second-place Roy Halladay (2.39), whose NL-best win total of nine Jurrjens can equal in his 13th career start against the Mets.

Ironically, Jurrjens is also aiming for his ninth win against New York, having gone 8-3 with a 2.68 ERA through 12 starts.

He defeated Florida, 3-2, in his last start after allowing six hits and two runs in seven innings. One start earlier, against the Mets, Jurrjens was tagged for six hits and four runs in dropping a 5-0 verdict at Citi Field.

The Braves are 8-3 in his 11 starts of 2011.

New York counters with lefty Jonathon Niese, who'll make his seventh career start against Atlanta.

The 24-year-old got a no-decision in a June 3 outing against the Braves - a game Atlanta won, 6-3 - after allowing eight hits and two runs in 7 2/3 innings.

He followed that start up with a win six days later, going 7 2/3 innings again while giving up just three hits and a run in a 4-1 win at Milwaukee.

The Mets are 7-6 in his 13 starts.

On Monday in Pittsburgh, Neil Walker had two runs batted in to help back seven shutout innings from Paul Maholm, as the Pittsburgh Pirates topped the Mets, 3-1, in the finale of a four-game set at PNC Park.

Jose Reyes hit a sacrifice fly to account for the lone run for the Mets, who have split their last six games.

Mike Pelfrey (3-5) turned in a quality start, working seven solid innings. The righty gave up two runs on four hits and struck out six without issuing a walk.

In Houston, Hunter Pence brought life to a listless Astros lineup, going 3- for-4 with a home run and four RBI as Houston avoided getting swept by the Braves behind an 8-3 victory in the finale of a four-game series.

Derek Lowe (3-5) remained winless over his last seven starts after yielding five runs on eight hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.

Atlanta has split its six meetings with the Mets this season.

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