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Johan, Mets Look To Avoid Sweep In Atlanta

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(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta’s Tim Hudson has looked dominant for more than a month. He’s been almost as good against the New York Mets of late.

The right-hander looks for a fifth straight victory over New York while trying to help the NL East-leading Braves to a sixth consecutive win and series sweep Thursday night of Johan Santana and the Mets.

Hudson (15-5, 2.24 ERA) allowed one run and struck out a career-high 13 in seven innings of a 12-3 rout of Florida on Saturday to improve to 6-0 with a 1.43 ERA in eight starts since losing to Milwaukee on July 17.

“What a guy to have,” manager Bobby Cox told the Braves’ official website.

The 35-year-old Hudson also recorded his 1,500 strikeout Thursday.

“I don’t try to make guys miss the ball,” said Hudson, who has come back from major elbow surgery with perhaps the best season of his career. “Don’t expect that out of me every night.”

The Braves (78-65), owners of a three-game lead in the East, expect Hudson to be at his best versus the Mets.

He is 12-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 18 starts versus New York, and has allowed five runs over 27 innings while winning his last four starts against the division rival. Hudson, 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA against the Mets this season, gave up one run in six innings and outpitched Santana during a 4-1 home win Aug 2.

Santana (10-9, 3.02) allowed four runs and struck out 11 in seven innings of that contest but fell to 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in three starts against the Braves in 2010. He is 2-6 with a 2.31 ERA in 11 starts lifetime versus Atlanta.

Though the left-hander pitched 16 1-3-scoreless innings to win his next two starts, he has a 3.91 ERA while losing his last three. His teammates have given him an average of 1.57 runs of support in those games.

Santana, who last lost four consecutive starts in 2004, allowed four runs in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to Houston on Saturday.

“I’m not perfect. I’m going to give up some runs out there,” said Santana, who has won once this season when allowing more than one run. “You hope your team can come back and score some runs.”

Santana will try to help the Mets (65-68) from being swept in a four-game set by the Braves for the second time in three years.

Jason Heyward and Omar Infante combined for seven hits while three Atlanta pitchers held New York to two hits in a Atlanta’s 4-1 victory Wednesday.

Heyward is 24 for 45 with 12 RBIs in his last 11 games while Infante is batting .400 in his last 20. Infante has hit .442 against the Mets this season but is 1 for 6 lifetime versus Santana.

David Wright and Luis Hernandez had New York’s hits Wednesday. The Mets have hit .204 and averaged 2.3 runs while going 2-6 at Atlanta this season.

“That team, top to bottom, is a great ballclub,” Wednesday’s losing pitcher Mike Pelfrey said of the Braves.

Wright is 2 for 22 in his last six games, and 4 for 50 against Atlanta in 2010. The All-Star third baseman is a lifetime .204 hitter against Hudson.

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