The Atlanta Braves' all-or-nothing offense has provided closer to nothing of late, though that hasn't been case when the New York Mets have visited Turner Field.
The NL East-leading Braves will try to get back on track and beat the Mets for the eighth time in nine home games in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night.After getting shut out with only two hits a day earlier, Atlanta (17-11) was held to five hits on Thursday in a 3-1 home loss to Washington as it settled for a split of its four-game set.Only three base runners reached scoring position over the last two games, and Dan Uggla's home run in the seventh on ended a streak of 18 consecutive scoreless innings for the Braves.Atlanta ranks near the top of the majors in home runs (39) as well as strikeouts (259), but has just four homers and 84 strikeouts while dropping six of eight.The Braves, who still lead the NL East by 2 1/2 games, may be able to bounce back in this series since they've batted .292 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs while winning seven of eight meetings at Turner Field.They hope to continue that trend versus right-hander Shaun Marcum, who makes his second start for the Mets (11-15) after beginning the season on the DL with a neck injury and right biceps tendinitis.Marcum (0-2, 7.94 ERA) allowed three runs and five hits in only four innings in a 9-4 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday before giving up two runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief against Miami two days later.He's pitched well in his career against the Braves, striking out 18 and allowing five runs over 20 innings in three starts.Chris Johnson, Atlanta's top hitter at .369, is 1 for 12 with five strikeouts lifetime against Marcum.After ending a season-worst six-game losing streak on Wednesday, New York looks to win consecutive games for the second time in 12 road contests.The Mets have their own issues offensively, scoring 29 runs and batting .194 in their last 10 games."The most frustrating thing about the past six days is we've been in the games," manager Terry Collins said. "We've given ourselves a chance, we just haven't been able to create any offense.Collins' club is hoping to catch Atlanta starter Mike Minor (3-2, 3.13) at an opportune time as he tries to recover from his worst outing of the season.The left-hander gave up a total of five runs while winning three of his first four starts before allowing six runs and six hits -- including two homers -- in an 8-3 loss at Detroit on Sunday.The Braves have won five of Minor's six career starts against the Mets, though he has a 6.03 ERA in this series. He limited New York to just three hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 2-0 win on Sept. 29.John Buck, who leads the Mets with nine homers and 27 RBIs, is hitless in eight career at-bats against Minor.The Braves have won 12 of 14 overall against the Mets.