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Braves Dominate Mets With Pitching, Pitching, Pitching

Maholm, Relievers Give Wild-Card Leaders Third Straight Shutout, 3-0
David Wright

The Mets’ David Wright walks back to the dugout after striking out against the Braves on Sept. 7, 2012, at Citi Field. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Paul Maholm and the Atlanta Braves are making their best pitch for the playoffs.

Maholm and the Braves bullpen combined to give Atlanta three straight shutouts for the first time in exactly a decade, and the NL wild-card leaders beat the New York Mets 3-0 on Friday night.

Coming off two 1-0 wins over Colorado, the Braves’ staff stretched its scoreless streak to 28 innings. Atlanta last pitched three straight shutouts on Sept. 4-7, 2002, according to STATS LLC.

“You try to throw up as many zeros as possible,” Maholm said.

Jason Heyward hit his 25th homer in the fourth inning and Dan Uggla also connected.

This weekend marks Chipper Jones’ last trip to New York to play the Mets, an opponent he has often wrecked in the past. The Mets presented the retiring 40-year-old star with a pricey piece of 3-D artwork as part of his farewell tour in a pregame ceremony, while the crowd responded with its usual boos.

Jones did little, going 0 for 4, including a strikeout with the bases loaded, and making a throwing error from third base.

“Pregame was a blast. The whole day was a blast, except for when I went to step up to the plate or a ball was hit to me,” Jones said.

Fortunately for the Braves, they did fine without him making a contribution.

Maholm (12-9) worked around five hits and three walks in 5 1-3 innings. He evened his record at 3-3 since the Braves got him in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on July 30, including a three-hit shutout at Citi Field on Aug. 10.

“It wasn’t the cleanest game,” he said. “I was a little erratic. They kind of waited me out.”

Still, he extended his shutout streak against the Mets to 22 1-3 innings, spanning four outings. Hitless relief helped him and the Braves close it out.

Chad Durbin got one out in the sixth and Luis Avilan retired pinch-hitter Lucas Duda on a grounder with runners on second and third to end the inning. Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty each pitched a scoreless inning and Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth for his 35th save in 38 chances.

“The thing we did so well when we had guys on base was to get two-out hits. But lately, we’re not hitting. We’re not hitting at all. And we haven’t been able to get big hits here at home,” Mets manager Terry Collins.

The Mets lost their eighth straight series opener at Citi Field.

Heyward put the Braves ahead with a drive off Jonathon Niese (10-9) that landed on the roof of the Atlanta bullpen.

Uggla opened the seventh with a double against Bobby Parnell. Catcher Kelly Shoppach had him picked off, but made a wild throw into center field. The error moved up Uggla, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by David Ross.

Uggla hit his 18th home run with two outs in the ninth.

NOTES: Damian Moss, Kevin Millwood and Greg Maddux were the starters when Atlanta threw those shutouts in 2002. … Mets CF Andres Torres bruised his left knee making a diving catch on Martin Prado’s liner in the second and left the game. He was listed as day-to-day. … Braves 1B Freddie Freeman was hitless in four at-bats and is an 0-for-15 rut. … Mets SS Ruben Tejada got a day off for rest. Collins said Tejada might sit out again Saturday. … The Braves were informed that Prado’s two-run double last Sunday against Philadelphia was changed by Major League Baseball executive Joe Torre to an error.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)