Atlanta leads the National League East by a season-high four games after picking up a 4-2 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field on Friday night.  The Braves posted a 13-5 series victory against their division rivals in 2009, going 7-2 at the Mets home ball park and 6-3 at Turner Field.  Entering this series, the club has gone 14-1-3 in its last 17 series dating back to May 10.    The bullpen has been a major strength over the course of season by ranking first in the National League and fourth in the majors with a 3.25 ERA.  Overall, the Braves pitching staff ranks fifth in the majors with a 3.66 mark.  Atlanta carries the best record in the National League (51-35) and has helped improve upon its record with a 5-2 start to July.  Manager Bobby Cox’s team is an astounding 216-133 during the month since 1997 (+2,800).

Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson is 8-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 17 starts this season, with the team alternating wins and losses in his last five outings.  He picked up a 3-2 home defeat against the Florida Marlins last time out despite giving up just three earned runs and six hits over eight innings.  The right-hander has managed to go at least seven innings in each of his last six appearances.  Hudson is 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 10 road starts this season, but has issued more walks (26) than obtaining strikeouts (22).  In 16 lifetime starts against the Mets, he has posted a 10-5 record and 3.77 ERA.  He will be making just his second career start at Citi Field, going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA.

New York was motivated to try to sweep the first-place Atlanta Braves in this three-game set, but that dream ended with last night’s defeat.  A sweep would have put the Mets in a tie atop the division at the end of the first half.  “We had a problem closing out innings,” manager Jerry Manuel said.  “That’s what good teams do - they continue to score with two outs.”  The Mets have still won 15 of their last 21 games at Citi Field and are 15-7 during their last four homestands.  The club has posted a small profit during day games this season, posting a 13-11 record (+20).  The total in those games under the sun stands at 12-11-1 O/U.

Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey is 10-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 18 appearances (17 starts) this season, but is suffering from a bad stretch over his last two outings.  The right-hander has allowed 11 runs and 21 hits over his last 9.1 innings of work, with the Mets splitting the two games.  He is a solid 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA in 10 home starts this season, allowing just three home runs in 63.2 innings.  Pelfrey has struggled under the sun this year, posting an even 2-2 mark and 5.28 ERA in six daytime outings compared to an 8-1 record and 2.64 ERA in 12 night starts.  He is set to make his 13th appearance (12th start) against the Braves, going 4-5 with a 5.21 ERA.  On May 17 at Turner Field, he picked up a 3-2 victory in allowing just two runs and scattering seven hits over 7.2 frames.

Bettors will likely side with the Mets in this contest due to the team’s 7-2 mark as a home underdog of +100 to +125 this season.  New York currently sits at +105 at Bookmaker.com.  It’s important to note that the total is 1-8 O/U in those games and 9-18 O/U in this spot for the club the last three years.  The Braves must be respected with a 17-11 daytime mark (+560) and 10-3 record on Saturdays (+330).