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Glavine outduels Thomson as Mets open 7-game lead

ATLANTA (AP) -- Tom Glavine was quick to offer a warning to those
who might make too much of the New York Mets' big early lead over
Atlanta.

"It's only April," Glavine said Saturday night after combining
with relievers Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner for a 1-0 victory
over the Braves.

Paul Lo Duca hit his first homer with the Mets and Glavine threw
seven sharp innings to win for just the second time in eight starts
with New York at Turner Field. The Mets, assured of their first
series win in Atlanta since August 2003, improved to 22-51 at
Turner Field.

The Mets already lead the NL East by seven games over Atlanta
and Philadelphia, their largest cushion since finishing the 1988
season ahead by 15 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It is nice, don't get me wrong, but I don't think anybody in
here is getting too caught up in it," Glavine said. "Regardless
of what happens (Sunday), nobody in here thinks that team is going
away. ... You don't want to get too far ahead of yourself. It's
just a good first month of the year."

The Braves have lost five straight, their longest losing streak
since dropping six in a row from Aug. 8-14, 2001. Atlanta (9-14) is
five games below .500 for the first time since June 24, 2004.

Lo Duca gave Glavine (3-2) the only run he needed to beat John
Thomson.

Even Glavine acknowledged the win over his former team was
especially sweet. He has had more frustration than success against
the Braves since leaving Atlanta after the 2002 season.

Before Saturday night, Glavine was 1-5 with a 7.22 ERA in seven
starts for the Mets at Turner Field. His only other win over the
Braves in Atlanta came on April 6, 2004, in a 7-2 Mets win.

Overall, Glavine improved to 3-9 in 14 starts against Atlanta,
his major league home from 1987-2002.

"It's never going to be like any other place for me," Glavine
said of Atlanta, where he still makes his offseason home.

One night after former Braves player Julio Franco was greeted
with a standing ovation, Glavine received a mix of cheers and boos
when introduced before the game and before each at-bat.

"I'm not going to say I don't care," said Glavine,
acknowledging the boos come from his decision to leave Atlanta as a
free agent. "It's one of those things. People have their opinion
of me and what happened. I happen to think they're wrong."

The 40-year-old lefty gave up only four hits with two walks and
one strikeout. He retired the Braves in order in the fifth, sixth
and seventh to edge Thomson (0-1) and earn his 278th career win.

"He was terrific, outstanding," Mets manager Willie Randolph
said. "He rises to the occasion. Tommy was superb."

Randolph says Glavine has extra incentive against Atlanta.

"He wants to beat them," Randolph said.

"I think Tommy knows that early on they had his number. I know
this is very gratifying to him, but to me it's just another win."

Heilman pitched a perfect eighth and Wagner worked around an
infield single in the ninth for his seventh save in nine chances.
He got Andruw Jones to ground into a double play and struck out
Jeff Francoeur.

Lo Duca's first homer of the season came on a 3-2 pitch from
Thomson with one out in the sixth. Lo Duca lined the pitch into the
left-field seats, the first homer allowed by Thomson in 26 innings.

"I think it was the right pitch, I just think it was in a bad
place," Thomson said. "It was supposed to be a sinker down and
away. ... But to leave a ball up in the middle in to a good hitter,
that's what's going to happen."

Pedro Martinez beat John Smoltz in the series opener Friday
night, a more highly anticipated pitching duel. Saturday's game
developed as the better matchup, however, as Thomson matched
Glavine through five shutout innings.

Carlos Beltran, making his first start since April 20, when he
aggravated a hamstring injury, led off the fourth with a double to
left-center for the Mets' first hit off Thomson. Beltran was left
standing on second as Thomson retired the next three batters.

The Braves threatened in the fourth when Matt Diaz hit a two-out
single and advanced to third on a hit-and-run single up the middle
by Brian Jordan. Left fielder Cliff Floyd, running toward center
field, made a diving catch of Todd Pratt's sinking line drive to
end the inning.

"I think you have to give it to Tommy and Floyd tonight,"
Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Floyd made the catch of the
ballgame."

Thomson was pulled in the seventh. With two outs, he gave up a
single to Xavier Nady. After Nady stole second, Thomson gave an
intentional walk to Kaz Matsui before loading the bases with a walk
to Glavine.

Cox brought in reliever Oscar Villarreal, who ended the inning
with a fly ball to left from Jose Reyes.

Thomson gave up three hits and one run in 6 2-3 innings. He
walked four and had six strikeouts.

Game notes
Edgar Renteria's infield single in the third extended his
hitting streak to 14 games. ... Nady's stolen base in the seventh
was his first of the season. ... Carlos Delgado struck out four
times.