Mets-Braves Preview

A lack of run support has been the biggest reason the usually

solid Tommy Hanson hasn’t won in nearly two months.

At the rate his Atlanta Braves have been scoring, he might just

need to make it through five innings to end the drought Wednesday

night.

Hanson looks to bounce back from a pair of shaky outings and

ride Atlanta’s offensive surge against the New York Mets at Turner

Field, where that elusive victory would extend his team’s winning

streak to five.

Hanson (8-10, 3.76 ERA) has received 14 runs of support during

his past 10 starts, which explains his 0-5 record in that stretch

despite a 3.08 ERA.

He can’t fault the Braves’ offense for his past two outings,

though. After giving up five runs in five innings of a 5-4 loss to

Chicago on Aug. 21, Hanson surrendered four homers and seven runs

over five innings of a 7-1 defeat to Florida on Friday.

All four home runs came on fastballs down the middle of the

plate.

“He just left his pitches up,” catcher Brian McCann said. “Tommy

has got to establish his fastball. It makes every pitch off that

better.”

McCann and the Braves (77-55) mustered six hits in Hanson’s

latest start – their fourth straight loss – but they’ve been red

hot at the plate since. Atlanta has totaled 37 runs during its

four-game winning streak, beating the Mets 9-2 on Tuesday.

”It’s a long season,” first baseman Derrek Lee said. “I think

you’re going to have little blips here and there, but it’s how you

respond to them. I think this team shows its character by bouncing

right back.”

Jason Heyward continued his tear with a pair of RBIs, giving him

11 in a nine-game stretch in which he’s gone 18 for 37.

He’s about to be joined by another left-handed hitting rookie

who dominated the minor leagues. First baseman Freddie Freeman,

named the Triple-A International League’s Rookie of the Year after

hitting .319 with 18 homers and 87 RBIs, will be called up on the

first day of roster expansion.

Freeman, Heyward’s roommate since the two players began their

pro careers three years ago, figures to occasionally fill in for

Lee the rest of the way before getting a shot at the starting job

next season.

“He’s been screaming pretty loud for about a month,” general

manager Frank Wren told the Braves’ official website. “He’s done

everything and more that we could expect from a 20-year-old at

Triple-A.”

Hanson has gone 1-1 with a 1.02 ERA in three career starts

against New York (65-67), a far better line than counterpart Mike

Pelfrey (13-7, 3.61) has versus Atlanta. The right-hander is 4-7

with a 5.45 ERA, and didn’t make it through the fifth in either of

his most recent matchups with the Braves.

Pelfrey, however, has been outstanding after enduring a

seven-start winless stretch. He improved to 3-1 with a 1.20 ERA

since then by holding Houston to six hits over eight scoreless

innings in a 2-1 win Friday.

“I got so far away from being myself and doing what I did early

in the year and being successful. I’ve gotten back to that,”

Pelfrey said. “The next time there’s some adversity or struggles,

it shouldn’t be from getting away from doing what makes me

me.”

McCann is 18 for 37 (.486) with 10 extra-base hits against

Pelfrey, but Heyward is 0 for 8.

The Mets shipped former Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur to

Texas for infielder Joaquin Arias after Tuesday’s loss.