The Sports Xchange

MLB Team Report - Atlanta Braves - INSIDE PITCH

NEW YORK -- The 2012 Atlanta Braves were the first team victimized by the addition of second wild card and the subsequent randomness of a single game determining which team advances and which stays home.

However, two years after a 94-win Braves squad was eliminated by the 88-win St. Louis Cardinals in the National League wild-card game, the second wild card and the lure of a winner-take-all play-in game is the only thing keeping Atlanta's postseason hopes alive.

The Braves snapped a three-game losing streak Wednesday with a 3-2 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field. Atlanta's win, coupled with the Washington Nationals' 8-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, pulled the Braves within 6 1/2 games of the Nationals in the National League East.

That is the biggest deficit facing any second-place team, and the Nationals' red-hot play in the second half -- Washington is an NL-best 24-15 since the All-Star break -- indicates the long and unlikely road ahead of the Braves in the division.

Meanwhile,, the Braves remain only 1 1/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the race for the second wild card.

"I think the wild card and the second wild-card team ... it's great not only for the teams that are in it, but also the fans," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Wednesday afternoon.

Gonzalez said he doesn't discuss the wild-card race with Braves players, but he figures they are well aware of their place in the standings.

"I don't bring it to their attention or anything like that." Gonzalez said. "But shoot, it's there."


MLB Team Report - Atlanta Braves - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 69-64

STREAK: Won one

NEXT: Braves (LHP Mike Minor, 5-8, 4.90 ERA) at Mets (LHP Jonathon Niese, 7-9, 3.47 ERA)


--LHP Mike Minor will look to build off his best start of the season when he takes the mound for the Braves on Thursday in the finale of a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Minor threw 7 2/3 no-hit innings against the Cincinnati Reds last Friday but was saddled with a hard-luck no-decision when he gave up his lone hit -- an RBI single -- to Billy Hamilton, the final batter he faced in the Braves' 3-1, 12-inning win. That game was the first time in 20 starts this year that Minor pitched beyond the seventh inning. Minor is 4-2 with a 4.86 ERA in 11 career starts against the Mets. He last opposed the Mets on July 7, when he didn't factor into the decision after giving up two runs over seven innings in the Braves' 4-3, 11-inning loss.

--RF Jason Heyward hit a leadoff homer against a familiar foe Wednesday night when he jump-started the Braves' 3-2 win over the Mets by hitting the third pitch from Mets RHP Zack Wheeler into the left field seats. It was Heyward's seventh career leadoff homer, his fourth this season, two of those against Wheeler. Heyward is hitting .270 with 11 homers and 53 RBI in 125 games this season.

--LF Justin Upton remained on an RBI tear Wednesday night, when he had a run-scoring groundout in the third inning of the Braves' 3-2 win over the Mets. Upton has 22 RBIs in his past 17 games and now has 88 RBIs this season, which places him third in the National League. He is hitting .289 with 25 homers.