Series: Game 3 of 3

Atlanta won 2-1

Game 1: Tuesday, September 26
NY Mets0Final
Game 2: Wednesday, September 27
NY Mets1Final
Game 3: Thursday, September 28
NY Mets7Final

Mets 7

(94-65, 44-34 away)

Braves 4

(77-82, 38-40 home)

    7:35 PM ET, September 28, 2006

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 310111000 7 10 2
    ATL 000011101 4 10 1

    W: O. Hernandez (11-11)

    L: K. Davies (3-7)

    El Duque delivers win as Mets top Braves, snap skid

    ATLANTA (AP) -- Orlando Hernandez gave the New York Mets the type of performance they'll need when he starts their playoff opener in place of Pedro Martinez.

    Baseball Podcasts for 9/29
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    El Duque matched his season high with nine strikeouts, pitching the Mets over the Atlanta Braves 7-4 Thursday night and stopping the Mets' four-game losing streak.

    During a news conference in the fourth inning, the Mets said Martinez will miss the postseason because of a torn tendon in his left calf muscle. Hernandez, 9-3 in postseason play, will now pitch the opener at Shea Stadium next week and Tom Glavine will go in Game 2.

    "It is what it is. There's nothing much we can do about it," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "It's very unfortunate, but we have to move on."

    Hernandez (11-11) allowed only an unearned run, three hits and five walks in five innings, pitching in his usual deliberate manner: throwing only 61 of 102 pitches for strikes.

    "He pitched well. He walked a few guys, but he's looking sharper and sharper every time he goes out there," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

    Elias Says
    Jose Reyes
    Kyle Davies was the elixir for the Mets' slumbering bats Thursday night, and Jose Reyes was particularly happy to see him. Reyes walked and scored in the first inning, then singled and scored in the second inning. At that point, Reyes had reached base in each of his past 12 plate appearances against Davies, a streak that ended with a fourth-inning groundout. In the past 10 years, only one other major league player reached based in at least 12 consecutive trips to the plate against one particular pitcher: Miguel Cabrera vs. Steve Trachsel (also 12 straight), spanning 2003-04.

    • For more Elias Says, click here

    El Duque is 9-7 since the Mets acquired him from Arizona on May 24, and has a 1.69 earned-run average in his last five starts, allowing seven earned runs in 37 1/3 innings. He dedicated this game to a friend in New York, Rafael Morales, who died Thursday.

    "Now I can think about the playoffs. I feel prepared for it," Hernandez said through teammate Julio Franco, who translated. "I don't feel good because Pedro is hurt, but I'll assume the responsibility."

    Hernandez improved to 4-0 at Turner Field, where he has won three regular-season starts, giving up one earned run in 20 innings with 23 strikeouts. He also won Game 1 of the 1999 World Series for the Yankees at Atlanta, giving up one run and striking out 10 in seven innings.

    "I throw the same everywhere I pitch," Hernandez said.

    Carlos Delgado drove in four runs and Carlos Beltran hit his 41st homer, tying the Mets record set by Todd Hundley in 1996. New York had lost seven of eight coming in and was outscored 25-1 in the first two games of the series.

    Kyle Davies (3-7) gave up five runs -- four earned -- five hits and six walks in 3 1/3 innings, leaving his ERA at 8.38.

    Andruw Jones hit his 41st homer in the ninth, a drive off Billy Wagner that gave him 128 RBI, matching his career high. The Braves put two on before Wagner ended the game by throwing a called third strike past Willy Aybar.

    With the loss, the Braves (77-82) ensured a below .500 finish for the first time since 1990 -- when they went 65-97 in the last season before their streak of 14 straight division titles began.

    "I can't say it was a wasted season, whether we went to .500 or not. We know now how other guys feel who never make the playoffs," Atlanta first baseman Adam LaRoche said.

    They finish at home with three games against Houston, which trails NL Central-leading St. Louis by a half-game.

    "I will look at it as a team that went through some tough times," Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur. "We still have a shot to ruin the Astros chances. It's going to be fun."

    Braves manager Bobby Cox and catcher Brian McCann were ejected in the third inning for arguing with plate umpire Joe West after he called a ball on Davies when he went to his mouth while pitching to Delgado, who then walked.

    New York built a 6-0 lead on Delgado's three-run double in the first, Paul Lo Duca's RBI single in the second, Delgado's RBI double in the fourth and Jose Reyes' run-scoring single off Peter Moylan in the fifth.

    Atlanta got its first run in the fifth on a throwing error by third baseman David Wright.

    Game notes

    Beltran tied Mets records with 80 extra-base hits (Howard Johnson, 1989) and 123 runs (Edgardo Alfonzo, 1999). ... OF Cliff Floyd went to New York to get a cortisone shot for his sore left ankle. He will meet the Mets in Washington on Friday when they close the regular season against the Nationals.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press