Jurrjens, the National League’s top pitcher for the month of May, became just the fourth pitcher in major league history to allow two earned runs or less and pitch at least six innings in each of his first nine starts on Sunday against Cincinnati. He held the Reds to a run and six hits in eight innings, to improve to 7-1, while lowering his major league best earned run average 1.51.
Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies set the record last year when he did it in his first 12 starts. Like Jurrjens, Randy Johnson (2000) and Lefty Gomez (1937) did so in their first nine outings to the season.
“It’s an honor,” Jurrjens said. “It’s not easy to be a starting pitcher in this league. I went out there and knew the bullpen needed a rest. I just made sure I kept my pitch count down and stay deeper in the game.”
Injuries limited the right-hander to just 20 starts a year ago, but a victory this evening would surpass his total from last year and tie him for the NL lead along with Pittsburgh’s Kevin Correia. Although, two other seven-game winners – Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo and St. Louis’ Kyle Lohse – are also slated to take the hill this evening.
Jurrjens threw seven scoreless innings to beat the Mets back on April 16 and is 8-2 lifetime against them with a 2.54 ERA in 11 starts.
New York, meanwhile, will counter with an equally impressive righty in Dillon Gee, who is 5-0 with a 3.83 ERA. Gee won his third straight start on Monday against Pittsburgh, as he limited the Pirates to three runs and five hits in seven innings.
Gee defeated Atlanta earlier in the year and is 1-1 in two starts against them with a 2.84 ERA.
Atlanta rallied for a victory in Friday’s opener, as Eric Hinske’s solo, tie- breaking home run off Francisco Rodriguez with one out in the ninth inning boosted the Braves to a 6-3 win.
“I was thinking I’m going to try and ambush him, get something to hit over the plate. It worked out,” said Hinske, who entered the game in the fifth inning when Jordan Schafer was forced to leave after bunting a ball off his face. “Sometimes you guess right and it’s part of the cat and mouse game.”
Freddie Freeman added a two-run double to cap the ninth inning uprising, as the Braves topped the Mets for the 10th time in the last 12 meetings.
The Mets, who held a 3-1 lead going to the eighth inning, lost for the third time in four games. Jose Reyes committed a critical error in the eighth, which allowed the tying run to score.
Derek Lowe pitched six effective innings and Craig Kimbrel locked down his 17th save of the year. Kimbrel now has more saves before the All-Star break than any rookie in NL history. Johnathan Papelbon holds the overall rookie saves mark before the break with 26.
Jonny Venters (4-0) fanned a pair of batters in the eighth to get the win.
“We’ve got to continue to work together to get through these and add on some runs,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Schafer reportedly has a broken nose, but he underwent more tests after the game to see if there was any other damage.
While Rodriguez (1-2) suffered the loss, he has converted his last 16 save chances, his longest streak in a season since equaling that mark to began the 2009 campaign.
Atlanta took two of three from the Mets earlier in the year.