Mets go after ninth straight win

( – The New York Mets kick off the last leg of their
homestand looking to post their longest winning streak since 2008 as they take
on the Atlanta Braves in the first of three straight meetings.

The Mets are a perfect 7-0 at home this season after sweeping sets from
Philadelphia and Miami to begin this 10-game residency. The perfect homestand
has pushed their winning streak to eight in a row, a stretch that began with a
victory in Atlanta on April 12.

New York had lost the first two games of that series with the hosting Braves.

The Mets capped off a four-game sweep of the Marlins with Sunday’s 7-6
victory. Ruben Tejada hit a three-run double as part of a fourth inning that
saw New York score seven times.

Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud, Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis each drove
in a run for the Mets, while Matt Harvey allowed four runs on eight hits with
seven strikeouts over six-plus innings to pick up the win.

Though New York won its eighth straight game for the first time since June
10-18, 2010, it did lost a pair of players to fractures in the game. Reliever
Jerry Blevins sustained a fractured left forearm when he was hit a by a come-
backer in the seventh inning, not long after d’Arnaud sustained an injured
right hand getting hit by a pitch.

“You just keep coming to work every day because you can’t control those
things,” said Murphy about the injuries. “I feel like we’ve got plenty of
depth in our system so we’ll call some guys up and go from there.”

Catcher Kevin Plawecki, the club’s second-ranked prospect by, is
expected to replace d’Arnaud on the roster and hit .309 with 11 homers across
101 total games at Double- and Triple-A.

d’Arnaud, meanwhile, is hitting .317 with two homers and a club-leading 10 RBI
in 11 games. He will be re-examined in three weeks.

Reliever Hansel Robles will also be recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to
replace the left-handed Blevins, who the Mets acquired from the Washington
Nationals in late March.

New York will try to shake off the injuries and win nine straight for the
first time since a 10-game run from July 5-17, 2008. Southpaw Jon Niese will
get the start in tonight’s opener.

Niese did not factor into a 5-3 loss to the Braves in his season debut on
April 10. He allowed three runs, but only one was earned over his five innings
of work and he sits 7-6 lifetime versus Atlanta with a 3.36 earned run average
in 19 games.

The 28-year-old then faced the Phillies on Wednesday and picked up a 6-1 win,
limiting the damage to a run over 6 1/3 innings despite allowing nine hits and
a pair of walks.

“Nothing came easy,” said Niese. “Our offense did a great job and gave us the

The Braves used a similar blueprint to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on
Sunday, with Jonny Gomes hitting a three-run double in the first inning before
later bringing in another run with a sac fly in the third.

The early surge helped Atlanta win the rubber match of the three-game set
after having lost three of four coming in.

“Scoring early on the road is pretty good when they get the last at-bat, so it
was pretty nice to get on the board early,” said Gomes.

Shelby Miller allowed a pair of runs on a sixth-inning double, his final frame
of work. The earned the win after giving up five hits and three walks while
striking out six.

Trevor Cahill takes the mound for the Braves looking to shake off his subpar
debut with the club last Tuesday.

Cahill, acquired from Arizona just before the start of the season, yielded
four runs on five hits and three walks, one that forced in a run, over 2 1/3
innings of an 8-2 setback to Miami. He also struck out two.

A right-handed former All-Star, Cahill is 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in two games (1
start) versus the Mets.

Atlanta’s bullpen will be without left-hander Andrew McKirahan, who was
suspended for 80 games on Monday by Major League Baseball for violating the
drug policy. He tested positive for Ipamorelin, a performance-enhancing drug.

The 25-year-old had never pitched above Double-A ball prior to this season and
yielded two runs over 4 1/3 innings and three games with the Braves after
being claimed off waivers from Miami in early April.