Four-game set seems to spell Mets success

Four-game set spells Mets success

ATLANTA -- Four-game series are perilous for any team. For a team scrambling to find a foothold, they're worse. And once the first game is lost, a reason to squirm develops.

"Never liked four-game series," Buddy Harrelson said during his managerial tenure. "They're unnatural."

So naturally, the Mets are squirming a bit today. Their four-game series against the Braves is one-quarter done, and they have lost the first quarter.

What's unnatural is how they've prospered in four-game series this season. Back when they still were mostly whole, the Mets won three of four games in San Francisco in mid-May, scoring 24 runs in the three games before being shut out in the fourth.

Then, with Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes assigned to the disabled list, they won three of four against the Cardinals at Citi Field last month before the bottom fell out from under them.

The only other four-game series they were to have played before the All-Star break was in Pittsburgh in the first days of June. They lost three, and one was postponed. It was a three-game series.

So they've won six of eight games on their two four-game series. Perhaps therein lies their hope. Including the current series in Atlanta, the Mets play six four-game series in their final 65 games -- one each against the Braves, Rockies, Giants and Padres, and two against the first-place Phillies.

Perhaps the fours are with them.

Pitching matchup
NYM: RHP Mike Pelfrey (7-4, 4.47 ERA)
Pelfrey survived his all-too-common one bad inning in his victory against the Reds on Sunday. He had four 1-2-3 innings, one in which he allowed two hits and one in which the Reds scored three times on five hits, a walk and a balk. The Mets have lost five of his eight most recent starts. Pelfrey had a seven-inning no-decision against the Braves at Citi Field on May 12. He allowed two runs in the 4-3 victory. Before this season, Pelfrey had produced a 2-3 record and 5.55 ERA in seven games -- six starts -- and 37 1/3 innings against the Braves. Brian McCann has a .400 average in 20 at-bats against Pelfrey. Chipper Jones has two home runs and a .308 average in 13 at-bats against the Mets starter.

ATL: RHP Jair Jurrjens (7-7, 2.91 ERA)
Jurrjens seeks to begin the second half as he ended the first half -- with a victory. He was one of the National League's most effective starters in the first half. He defeated the Rockies on July 11 for his second victory of the month after going winless with four losses in five starts in June. Jurrjens pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs against the Mets on May 12. In the righty's three previous starts against them, he produced a 2-1 record and 4.00 ERA in 18 innings. The Mets have batted .213 in 94 at-bats in those games against him.

Angel Berroa, late of the Yankees, has been added to the Mets' big league roster at the expense of Argenis Reyes. The Mets signed Berroa as a Minor League free agent last week after the Yankees had designated him for assignment. He played two games with the Mets' Triple-A Buffalo affiliate before the promotion. The 2003 American League Rookie of the Year (with the Royals) is 31. He batted .136 in 22 at-bats with the Yankees. His first appearance with the Mets will make him the 107th player, and the third this season, to play for both New York teams. Gary Sheffield and Tim Redding are the others this year.

This date in Mets history -- July 17: Even a broken clock is right twice a day. And that explains this: With their record already 18 games under .500 and another 100-loss season in the offing, the '67 Mets swept a doubleheader from the eventual NL champions on this date. They defeated the Cardinals, 2-1 and 8-5, in St. Louis. Ed Kranepool hit a two-run home run against Ray Washburn to win the first game and hit another in a decisive five-run rally in the second game.

Two years later on this date, the second-place Mets knocked out Ferguson Jenkins in the second inning and went on to beat the Cubs, 9-5, at Wrigley Field to move within four games of the division leaders. Al Weis hit his second home run in two days. It was his second and last home run of the season and the sixth of the seven he would hit in his career. ... One month after his debut with the Mets in 1977, Steve Henderson hit a two-run home run, his third home run in seven games, against Goose Gossage in the seventh inning of what became a 5-3 Mets victory against the Pirates at Shea Stadium. Acquired in the Tom Seaver trade, Henderson would finish second to Andre Dawson in the balloting for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. ... Gary Carter drove in four runs, and Dwight Gooden pitched a seven-hitter in the Mets' 9-0 victory against the Reds at Shea in 1987. Gooden struck out two. Keith Hernandez has 15 putouts at first base.

Jason Isringhausen made his big league debut on this date in 1995, pitching seven innings in the Mets' 7-2 victory against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Isringhausen allowed two runs on two hits and two walks. The Mets scored five times in the ninth. ... A bases-loaded infield single by Mark DeRosa drove in the decisive run in the Braves' 3-2 victory against the Mets at Turner Field on this date in 2003. Greg Maddux pitched a complete game.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WFAN 660, WADO 1280 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Mets (Johan Santana, 10-7, 3.09) at Braves (Kenshin Kawakami, 5-6, 4.26), 4:00 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Mets (Fernando Nieve, 3-3, 3.03) at Braves (Javier Vazquez, 6-7, 2.95), 6:00 p.m. ET
• Monday: Mets (Livan Hernandez, 5-5, 5.10) at Nationals (Craig Stammen, 2-4, 4.45), 7:05 p.m. ET

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.