Smoltz to pitch Shea finale

Smoltz out to salvage series at Shea

When John Smoltz takes the mound for Sunday's series finale against the Mets at Shea Stadium, he'll be in unfamiliar territory, and that's not simply because he's pitching on three days' rest. Adding to the oddity is the fact it's the first week of May and already he's starting what seems to be a game the Braves must win.

After dropping both of the first two games of this series, the Braves now find themselves nine games behind the front-running Mets. They haven't been this far back in the division standings since August 1993, when Smoltz was just 26 years old.

"It's not a lack of scrappiness or desire," Smoltz said. "It's just not working right now."

Because the Braves had to use nine pitchers, including Sunday's scheduled starter Jorge Sosa, in Friday night's 14-inning loss, Smoltz was forced to make this start on short rest. This will be the 18th time in his career that he's pitched with three days of rest, and he's gone 6-7 with a 5.71 ERA in those games.

"He'll be just fine," Braves manager Bobby Cox said of Smoltz, who threw 109 pitches in seven innings against the Phillies on Wednesday.

Smoltz, who is winless in his past three starts, will be facing Jose Lima, who was announced as the Mets starter after John Maine was placed on the disabled list on Saturday. Lima has gone 2-3 with a 5.10 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Norfolk this year. The veteran right-hander threw two scoreless innings before being pulled from his start for the Tides on Thursday.

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP John Smoltz (1-2, 4.05 ERA)
Is 13-12 with a 3.54 ERA in 59 career appearances against the Mets.

NYM: RHP Jose Lima (5-16, 6.99 ERA in 2005)
Is 1-4 with a 4.36 ERA in 11 career appearances against the Braves.

Player to watch
Carlos Delgado has seven hits, including three homers, in 19 career at-bats against Smoltz.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• 640 WGST, 96 Rock

Up next
• Tuesday: Braves (John Thomson, 0-2, 2.16 ERA) at Marlins (Brian Moehler, 0-3, 9.27 ERA), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Braves (Kyle Davies, 2-2, 4.19 ERA) at Marlins (Josh Johnson, 2-2, 3.78 ERA), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Braves (Tim Hudson, 2-3, 5.09 ERA) at Marlins (Sergio Mitre, 2-2, 3.78 ERA), 7:05 p.m. ET

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.