(Sports Network) – Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and the suddenly streaking New York Mets can close out a sweep tonight when they visit the Atlanta Braves for the finale of a three-game series at Turner Field.
New York made it two straight on the Braves’ home turf on Wednesday, when four pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout and Angel Pagan added a two-run homer in a 4-0 triumph.
The win pulled the Mets to .500 on the season at 34-34 and got them within 3 1/2 games of skidding Atlanta for second place in the National League’s East Division.
The Philadelphia Phillies lead the East by five games, followed by Atlanta and New York. Washington and Florida are tied for the cellar spot, each 10 1/2 games behind.
New York’s Dillon Gee, bidding to win his eighth straight decision, allowed just one hit over four innings while striking out five, but his start was cut short by a 71-minute rain delay.
D.J. Carrasco worked two perfect innings in relief and Bobby Parnell (1-1) allowed just one hit and struck out five over two frames.
Over four innings, Atlanta’s Tim Hudson (5-6) allowed three runs — two earned — on four hits and one walk while striking out four.
The 36-year-old Dickey was just 21 when he was selected in the first round of the 1996 draft by the Texas Rangers, but had just 22 major-league wins to his credit before breaking through for an 11-9 record last season with New York.
He lost five of his initial six decisions as a follow up to begin 2011, but has won two of his last four over five subsequent starts while lowering his earned run average from 5.08 to 3.98.
He downed Atlanta on June 5 for his most recent win, allowing a single run on four hits in eight innings of a 6-4 triumph.
Lifetime against the Braves, he is 1-2 in seven games with a 4.40 ERA.
Atlanta counters with young lefty Mike Minor, a first-round pick in 2009 who was just 10 years old when Dickey was drafted.
The Vanderbilt University product reached the majors and pitched in nine games with a 3-2 record last season, then returned this year and dropped a 5-4 verdict in Milwaukee in his initial start April 6.
He’s pitched three times since, going 0-1 with a pair of no-decisions while allowing 19 hits and six runs in 17 2/3 innings.
Minor faced the Mets once last season and emerged with a win after going five innings and allowing seven hits and two runs with four strikeouts.
New York has won five of eight meetings with the Braves this season.