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Mets Vs. Braves: Niese Looks To Help Mets Get Back On Winning Track

(Sports Network) – Atlanta Braves young right-hander Tommy Hanson has never won 12 games in a season and has a chance to do so tonight in the continuation of a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

Hanson is just 1-2 with a 6.56 earned run average in his last four starts and dropped a 3-1 decision to Florida the previous time out on Sunday. He allowed all three runs and six hits in six innings, the third straight start in which he’s lasted at least six innings. Hanson was 10-4 before the All-Star break.

The right-hander is 11-6 with a 3.20 ERA in 21 starts this season and will be aiming for a measure of revenge against the Mets, who defeated Hanson in a 3-2 victory back on April 17 at Turner Field. Hanson was reached for three runs and five hits in five innings of work to fall to 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA in six career starts against New York.

Braves veteran pitcher Tim Hudson didn’t have any issues handling the Mets in last night’s 4-1 victory and fired seven innings of one-run ball. He scattered three hits, struck out two and walked a pair of batters to run his record to 11-7. Jonny Venters threw a scoreless eighth inning and All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel nailed down his 33rd save in the ninth.

Dan Uggla went 1-for-2 with two RBI to extend his career-high hitting streak to 26 games and Freddie Freeman pushed his hit streak to 19 games with two hits and a run scored. Jose Constanza went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored for the Wild Card-leading Braves, who have won two in a row since a three-game slide and prevailed for the sixth time in 10 tries. Atlanta is still 8 1/2 games behind the surging Phillies for first place in the NL East.

Uggla has the longest active hit streak in the majors and the fourth-longest in Braves history. He is five games behind Rico Carty’s team-record of 31 set during the 1970 season.

“I want it to continue just like everybody else does, hopefully,” Uggla said. “In that situation, it’s actually kind of calming with runners in scoring position right there. I was able to take my focus off of the lesser of the important, which is continuing history…just trying to drive those runs in.”

In other Atlanta news, third baseman Chipper Jones is expected to return to the starting lineup after undergoing right knee surgery. Jones had arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee on July 9 and returned to the lineup on July 25 against the Pirates. He has also been used in pinch-hitting roles.

“The knee is solid,” Jones said on the team’s site. “That’s the least of my concerns. The knot in my thigh is the main concern for me. I still have a knot, but it’s loosened up and the pain has subsided.”

The Braves are 2-2 on a nine-game road trip.

Meanwhile, New York is mired in a five-game losing streak since ripping off five straight wins and is aiming for its first win on this homestand. After losing two in a row versus Florida in a rain-shortened series, the Mets dropped another contest last night and wasted a strong start from R.A. Dickey.

Dickey was saddled with the loss even though he hurled seven strong innings of two-run ball with five K’s and no walks.

“We’re just not hitting,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “We have to give our guys some support.”

The Mets have scored nine runs during their recent slide and got two hits and an RBI from David Wright. They will also host San Diego for four games on this residency. Daniel Murphy recorded a hit and a run scored in defeat and has hit safely in 20 of his last 24 games.

New York learned that first baseman Ike Davis is most likely finished for the season because of a nagging bone bruise in his left ankle. He is expected to be re-evaluated in the next few weeks.

“I think it would be very difficult for him to come back and play this season,” said Mets GM Sandy Alderson. “You’re talking about the first week in September he will not have participated in any sort of baseball activities between now and then. It’s very unlikely.”

Mets starter Jonathon Niese is enjoying a career year and shoots for his 11th win of the season tonight. He defeated Atlanta back on June 14 in a 4-3 victory at Turner Field, as he limited the hosts to a pair of runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Niese evened his career mark in this at 2-2 in seven starts and owns a solid 2.88 earned run average in that stretch. The lefty has won four of his last six decisions and did not factor in the outcome of Sunday’s 3-2 loss at Washington, where he yielded two runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 frames. He is 10-8 in 23 games, 22 of which have been starts, to go along with a 3.94 ERA.

New York and Atlanta have split 10 meetings this season.