New York has now dropped 16 of its last 22 games after Monday night’s uninspiring 4-1 defeat to the first-place Braves at Turner Field.  “I do think we need to somehow be better,” manager Jerry Manuel said.  “We’ve got to execute in all phases of the game and we’re just not quite there yet.”  The Mets are 10-20 over the last four year at Atlanta and 33-74 all-time at Turner Field.  Despite their historic woes against tonight’s opponent, the club is a combined 9-6 this season against the two teams on this current road trip (Braves/Phillies).  New York is hitting .239 with 44 home runs and 206 RBI on the road this season, while combining for a .265 average at home.  The Mets are hitting .209 with 15 homers in 19 games since the All-Star break, leading the club to a dismal 6-13 mark.

Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey is 7-4 with a 2.32 ERA in 14 starts this season and is coming off one of his best outings of the year.  In picking up a 4-0 home victory over the Cardinals, he threw 8.1 shutout innings and allowed just four hits while striking out two.  Before that start, the Mets had dropped six consecutive games with the knuckleballer on the hill.  The right-hander is an even 3-3 with a 2.81 ERA in nine road starts, giving up just three home runs in 57.2 frames.  In three career games (one start) versus the Braves, he is 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA, as they are hitting a combined .341 against him.  He suffered a 4-2 home defeat against Atlanta on July 9, giving up four runs (three earned) and nine hits over 6.2 frames.

Atlanta bounced back after a disappointing 3-6 road trip and pushed its division lead to three games with last night’s victory.  The Braves are a dominating 35-13 at Turner Field this season (+1,520) and the total is 22-23 O/U in those games.  Newly acquired outfielder Rick Ankiel played a critical role in the series opener, picking up two hits and RBIs in pacing the team to a 4-1 win.  The team will need some more offensive help from the rest of the lineup after placing second baseman Martin Prado on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right pinky finger.  “We don’t think he could have played for 10 or 11 more days,” manager Bobby Cox said.  “There was no reason to rush it at all.”  He ranks fifth in the National League with a .315 batting average.  The Braves are 42-28 against right-handed starters this season, averaging 4.6 runs and hitting for a combined .259 average.

Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe is 10-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 22 starts this season, as the team has lost six of his last seven outings.  He suffered a 5-4 defeat to the Nationals in Washington last time out, giving up four runs and five hits over five innings of work.  The right-hander is 7-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 10 home starts this year and he is 15-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 36 career appearances (33 starts) at Turner Field overall.  In 15 lifetime outings (nine starts) against the Mets, he has a losing 3-5 mark and 6.61 ERA.  Lowe is also 5-7 with a 5.27 ERA in 14 nighttime starts compared to a 5-2 mark and 3.40 ERA during the day.

Don’t expect much improvement from the Mets over the course of this month after dropping the first two games of August, as the club is 28-32 over the last three years (-600).  The team is also 2-6 as a road underdog of +125 to +150 this season (-330).  Bettors will find the Braves with a 9-2 record as a home favorite of -125 to -150 this season, but that mark falls to 30-27 over the last campaigns (-660).