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Braves shut out Mets for second straight night

ATLANTA (AP) -- After two major league starts, Kyle Davies is 2-0
and has yet to give up a run.

That's pretty impressive for a pitcher who gave up 13 runs in
his last two minor league starts.

The Atlanta Braves shut out the New York Mets for the second
straight night, with Davies and three relievers combining for a 3-0
win to complete a three-game sweep Wednesday night.

Davies, from nearby Stockbridge, Ga., had his family in the
stands as he pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and one
walk. He received a standing ovation from the Turner Field crowd of
33,250 as he left in the sixth inning.

"It was exciting. You grow up dreaming about that," Davies
said.

After Tim Hudson pitched eight innings on three days' rest in a
4-0 win Tuesday night, Davies' second major league start also came
on short rest as the Braves adjust to losing pitchers Mike Hampton
and John Thomson to the disabled list.

The Braves expect such efforts from Hudson, but Davies' first
two appearances have given the pitching staff a surprise lift.

Davies pitched five shutout innings Saturday in his major league
debut, a 7-5 win at Boston.

"Davies was better tonight that he was in Boston," Braves
manager Bobby Cox said. "He was very good in Boston but tonight he
was even better. I thought he was just outstanding."

Davies opened the game with two balls to Jose Reyes, skipping
his second pitch to the plate.

"I stepped back and thought to myself 'just throw strikes,' "
he said. "These guys don't know you."

Davies retired Reyes on a groundout and then struck out four of
the next five batters.

"His mound presence, for a 21-year-old kid, is unbelievable,"
Braves catcher Johnny Estrada said.

Said Braves second baseman Marcus Giles: "You can't teach that
part of the game. He's got that confidence in his pitches. On any
count he will throw any pitch."

In his last two starts at Triple-A Richmond, however, Davies
gave up 13 runs in 8 1/3 innings. Overall, he was 2-1 with a 4.78
ERA at Richmond after posting a combined 13-3 record at three minor
league stops in 2004.

"He was good. He's tough," Mets third baseman David Wright
said. "He pitched for strikes. He located the ball. He had good
command for a young pitcher."

Chris Reitsma pitched two innings for his first save.

The Braves scored three times in the fifth inning off Mets
starter Victor Zambrano (2-5), with two runs scoring on Zambrano's
throwing error.

The Mets fell to 20-48 at Turner Field, which opened in 1997.
The Braves have won 24 of the last 31 games in Atlanta and are 7-2
overall against the Mets this season with three series wins.

"It's just one of those things in this game that you can't
explain," Giles said.

With the sweep, the Braves bounced back from a 4-8 road trip
that knocked them out of first place in the NL East. The Braves
have won eight straight home games, pushing their home record to
16-5.

"The Braves play well here," Mets manager Willie Randolph
said. "It's always tough when you come here."

Davies was lifted after giving up a one-out triple to Mike
Cameron in the sixth inning.

Davies was hit in his ribs by Miguel Cairo's line drive to open
the sixth. Davies threw out Cairo but then leaned over in apparent
pain. Cox, who checked on Davies after Cairo's liner, returned to
the mound after Cameron's triple to bring in left-hander John
Foster. Foster struck out Cliff Floyd and ended the inning with a
groundout by Mike Piazza.

X-rays of Davies' ribs were negative.

Only one of the Braves' three runs off Zambrano in the fifth
inning was earned.

Estrada led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on
Ryan Langerhans' single off the top of shortstop Reyes' glove. Pete
Orr hit a soft grounder back to Zambrano, but Zambrano threw to
third base before Wright reached the bag. Orr ran to second as
Estrada and Langerhans scored.

Rafael Furcal added a run-scoring single.

Randolph said he wouldn't resort to "panic stuff" after
back-to-back shutout losses.

"I still feel confident they will start swinging the bats the
next day," Randolph said. "There's no reason to shake things up.
We may make changes here and there."

The Mets' offensive frustrations peaked in the seventh when they
loaded the bases on three singles before Reyes hit into his second
inning-ending double play of the game.

The Mets also couldn't score after their first two batters
reached base in the third and fourth innings.

Piazza and Floyd were a combined 0-for-8 in the game and
1-for-21 with nine strikeouts in the series.

Game notes
Giles stole second and third in the fourth inning and set a
career high with his third steal of the game in the seventh. Furcal
stole second and third in the fifth inning. ... Mets CF Carlos
Beltran made his first appearance of the series, hitting a fly ball
to center as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. "I thought he
might get lucky and pop a three-run homer," Randolph said.