Mets-Braves Preview

A successful stretch has Atlanta back in control of the NL East, but the Braves will likely need better performances at home to hang on to first place.

A series with the scuffling New York Mets, who won’t have David Wright available again Monday night, could give them a prime opportunity to change their recent fortunes at Turner Field.

Atlanta (44-38) moved a half-game in front of Washington in the division with its sixth win in seven games Sunday, 3-2 in Philadelphia. Powered by a four-game sweep of the Phillies, the Braves claimed sole possession of first place for the first time since June 20.

The club is on the verge of matching a season-high, five-game win streak, set April 11-16, but has lost eight of 10 at home.

The Mets have dropped four of five after winning five of six.

New York (37-45) went 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base in Sunday’s 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh – the third time in four games it plated two runs.

Wright missed his third straight game because of a bruised rotator cuff in his left shoulder, and he won’t play in this series.

The Braves hope catcher Evan Gattis can return after missing three straight games with back spasms.

Teammate Alex Wood (6-6, 3.07 ERA) will try to for another stellar performance in his second start since returning from the minors. In his first major league start since May 4 and first appearance since June 8, the left-hander yielded three hits and a walk in seven innings of Wednesday’s 4-0 win in Houston.

"I think it was good for me to go down there and stretch out and get a feel for everything again," said Wood, who replaced an injured Gavin Floyd in the rotation. "At the same time, I think no matter what the situation is when you go down for however long it is, it’s one of those things when you come back you have to prove yourself all over again."

Wood went 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts against the Mets in 2013.

He’ll pitch opposite Zack Wheeler (3-8, 4.45), who had a miserable outing his last time out following a dominating performance.

The right-hander was tagged for six runs and six hits in two innings in Wednesday’s 8-5 loss to Oakland. He recorded his first shutout – a three-hitter – in a 1-0 win in Miami six days earlier.

"I’m already over this, to be honest with you. It’s time to get ready for my next start," Wheeler said.

Wheeler is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts against Atlanta this season, the most recent April 20, after going 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in three matchups in 2013.

Jason Heyward has contributed to some of that trouble this year, going 5 for 6 with a home run. The outfielder, though, is 0 for 14 in his last six games and 1 for 24 in his past nine.

The Mets’ Daniel Murphy, batting .341 in his last 10 games, is 4 for 8 against Wood.