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Mets Go For Sweep

John Smoltz and Tom Glavine became good friends during 15 years as Atlanta Braves teammates. Friendship, however, likely will be the farthest thing from their minds on Sunday.

Glavine will try to help the NL East-leading New York Mets complete a three-game sweep of the fading Braves as the former teammates face each other for the fourth time this season.

With losses in the first two games of this series, the Braves (69-67) are 6 1/2 games behind the Mets with only 26 games remaining. Already facing an uphill climb, another loss would put Atlanta one step closer to missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season following 14 straight division titles.

"At a certain point in the season, there's no season left," Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira said.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Atlanta -150 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 65% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta -150 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Regardless of how Smoltz (12-6, 3.06 ERA) performs, the Braves - losers of eight of 11 - will be hard pressed to avoid a sweep if their offense doesn't improve. They have managed only two runs and six hits in the first two games while striking out 22 times in 56 at-bats.

"Now our backs are against the wall pretty big," Atlanta right fielder Jeff Francoeur told the Braves' official Web site. "Now instead of taking two out of three (in future series), you've got to talk about sweeping series.

"By no means have we given up. But we realize we have a tall task ahead to get back in it."

The Braves were limited to one run and one hit over six innings in Saturday's 5-1 loss by Mike Pelfrey, who ended a personal eight-game losing streak with his first victory since July 18, 2006.

Getting rookie Yunel Escobar back in the lineup could help Atlanta's sagging offense. Escobar - batting .331 with three homers and 24 RBIs - was scratched from Saturday's lineup due to a sore left elbow, but could return Sunday.

Smoltz has gotten the better of good friend and golfing buddy Glavine in three previous matchups this season. He is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in those starts while Glavine is 0-2 with a 3.63 ERA.

"I'm just going to approach it as what it is," Smoltz said of his latest matchup against Glavine. "We're fortunately in the midst of a pretty good race. The other stuff will take a back seat right now."

Smoltz is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in his last five outings overall and has allowed three runs or fewer in 10 of his last 11 starts. Pitching on three days rest, he gave up three runs and six hits in six innings Tuesday at Florida, but didn't receive a decision in Atlanta's 4-3, 11-inning loss.

Glavine (11-6, 4.15) has not fared well against his former team, going 3-11 with a 5.65 ERA in 18 starts. Andruw Jones has given the 41-year-old left-hander a particularly difficult time, batting .390 (16-for-41) with four home runs and four doubles.

Glavine rebounded from one of his worst starts of the season with seven scoreless innings at Philadelphia on Tuesday, but the Mets lost 4-2 in 10 innings.

Carlos Delgado, Lastings Milledge and Carlos Beltran homered Saturday for New York (75-60), which holds a three-game lead over Philadelphia in the East.

Delgado has heated up at the perfect time, batting .421 (8-for-19) with three homers and nine RBIs in his last five games. He had one home run in his previous 21 contests.

The Mets, who had lost their first four series this season to the Braves, are 6-21 at Turner Field in September since the park opened in 1997.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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