Mets-Braves preview for 9/27

In what looked in April like an exciting and meaningful closing series, the New York Mets host Atlanta for four games, starting with a doubleheader today.

Game time for the first game is scheduled for 5:10 p.m., with coverage on Fox Sports New York. Rain is expected all day.

The Braves, leaders in the NL East and holders of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, have held up their end. Not expected to be as dominant as in the past, the Braves are 98-58. The disappointing Mets, losers of three straight, limp back to Shea with a 74-83 mark.

Atlanta has won nine of the 15 meetings between the teams in 2002, including seven of the last nine, and the teams have split the six games in New York.

Because both the Mets and Braves were rained out Thursday, the pitching matchups for today's games have changed. In Game 1, Greg Maddux takes on John Thomson, while the Mets' Pedro Astacio faces Kevin Millwood in Game 2.

Maddux (15-6, 2.64) won his 15th game on Sunday, the 15th straight year he has reached that plateau. The Braves ace has won four of his last five starts, and since June 10, he has allowed more than three earned runs in a game just twice.

Thomson, like Maddux, was scheduled to pitch Thursday but will make his final 2002 start for the Mets tonight. Thomson, 9-13 with a 4.74 ERA in 29 starts with the Mets and Colorado, is making his eighth start as a Met, sporting a 2-5 mark.

In the second game, Millwood (17-8, 3.26) continues his outstanding season. Since his last victory, an 8-5 win over the Mets on Sept. 11, Millwood has lost his last two starts, both to Florida.

For his career, Millwood is 4-3 with a 3.59 ERA in 15 appearances, 12 starts, against the Mets. Surprisingly, Timo Perez and Rey Ordonez hit Millwood hardest, while Mike Piazza (7-for-36, .194) and Edgardo Alfonzo (6-for-37, .162) struggle most.

Astacio will try to end 2002 on a positive note after a disastrous month-and-a-half. Since Aug. 8, when he improved to 11-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.95, Astacio is 1-6 in his last eight starts, giving up 47 runs in 40 innings, a 10.58 ERA.

The Braves are likely not the tonic for Astacio, who is 4-14 for his career against the Braves and was roughed up for eight runs, and four homers, in four innings during a 12-6 loss on Sept. 10.

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