Mets-Braves Preview

Atlanta’s Tim Hudson has looked dominant for more than a month.

He’s been almost as good against the New York Mets of late.

The right-hander looks for a fifth straight victory over New

York while trying to help the NL East-leading Braves to a sixth

consecutive win and series sweep Thursday night of Johan Santana

and the Mets.

Hudson (15-5, 2.24 ERA) allowed one run and struck out a

career-high 13 in seven innings of a 12-3 rout of Florida on

Saturday to improve to 6-0 with a 1.43 ERA in eight starts since

losing to Milwaukee on July 17.

“What a guy to have,” manager Bobby Cox told the Braves’

official website.

The 35-year-old Hudson also recorded his 1,500 strikeout

Thursday.

“I don’t try to make guys miss the ball,” said Hudson, who has

come back from major elbow surgery with perhaps the best season of

his career. “Don’t expect that out of me every night.”

The Braves (78-65), owners of a three-game lead in the East,

expect Hudson to be at his best versus the Mets.

He is 12-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 18 starts versus New York, and has

allowed five runs over 27 innings while winning his last four

starts against the division rival. Hudson, 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA

against the Mets this season, gave up one run in six innings and

outpitched Santana during a 4-1 home win Aug 2.

Santana (10-9, 3.02) allowed four runs and struck out 11 in

seven innings of that contest but fell to 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in

three starts against the Braves in 2010. He is 2-6 with a 2.31 ERA

in 11 starts lifetime versus Atlanta.

Though the left-hander pitched 16 1-3-scoreless innings to win

his next two starts, he has a 3.91 ERA while losing his last three.

His teammates have given him an average of 1.57 runs of support in

those games.

Santana, who last lost four consecutive starts in 2004, allowed

four runs in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to Houston on

Saturday.

“I’m not perfect. I’m going to give up some runs out there,”

said Santana, who has won once this season when allowing more than

one run. “You hope your team can come back and score some

runs.”

Santana will try to help the Mets (65-68) from being swept in a

four-game set by the Braves for the second time in three years.

Jason Heyward and Omar Infante combined for seven hits while

three Atlanta pitchers held New York to two hits in a Atlanta’s 4-1

victory Wednesday.

Heyward is 24 for 45 with 12 RBIs in his last 11 games while

Infante is batting .400 in his last 20. Infante has hit .442

against the Mets this season but is 1 for 6 lifetime versus

Santana.

David Wright and Luis Hernandez had New York’s hits Wednesday.

The Mets have hit .204 and averaged 2.3 runs while going 2-6 at

Atlanta this season.

“That team, top to bottom, is a great ballclub,” Wednesday’s

losing pitcher Mike Pelfrey said of the Braves.

Wright is 2 for 22 in his last six games, and 4 for 50 against

Atlanta in 2010. The All-Star third baseman is a lifetime .204

hitter against Hudson.