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Connecticut’s Harvey Struggles In Citi Field Debut

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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 10: Paul Maholm #17 of the Atlanta Braves (R) celebrates with teammate David Ross after pitching a complete game against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 10, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 10: Paul Maholm #17 of the Atlanta Braves (R) celebrates with teammate David Ross after pitching a complete game against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 10, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)

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By HOWIE RUMBERG
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Matt Harvey had trouble finding the plate early
in his home debut. Once he did, it was too late to catch up to the
steady Paul Maholm.

Harvey, of Groton, walked five in the first three innings and allowed a
two-run homer to Jason Heyward, and the New York Mets managed just
three hits in a 4-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

“I did everything I could to figure it out as fast as possible,
and I was able to keep the team close. Walking people is not what I
want to do,” Harvey said. “I was glad I was able to figure it
out.”

Maholm (10-7), rarely surpassing 88 mph, pitched a three-hitter
in his second start for Atlanta, a sharp contrast to the
hard-throwing Harvey.

Braves catcher David Ross was impressed by Harvey (1-3) but saw
a clear distinction between the 23-year-old rookie and Maholm, in
his eighth big league season.

“Great stuff but he’s got to learn how to pitch,” Ross said.
“Maholm, throwing 87 there, he knew how to pitch from the
get-go.”

Heyward connected in the first inning and Dan Uggla went deep in
the eighth for a two-run shot off reliever Josh Edgin for his first
homer in more than a month as Atlanta won for the 13th time in 16
games.

The Mets were coming off a 6-1 win against the Marlins to snap a
nine-game losing skid at home and were excited for Harvey’s New
York premiere.

With about 100 friends and family among the 25,101 in the
stands, Harvey threw a 93 mph strike to Michael Bourn on his first
pitch. Things did not go so well after that. After a groundout,
Heyward homered to right field on the first pitch, a 94 mph
fastball. It was Heyward’s 19th homer and first since he turned 23
on Thursday.

Harvey needed 33 pitches to get out of the first and 52 in the
first two innings. He also had a close call in the third when
Freddie Freeman’s grounder up the middle hit off his thigh.

But then he turned it around, showing flashes of the potential
that made him a top prospect. The Mets’ first pick in the 2010
draft _ seventh overall _ out of North Carolina retired nine
straight after Ross doubled leading off the fourth.

“I was very impressed at how he settled down. He settled down
and started making pitches. He got himself into a nice easy
groove,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He has all the talent
he needs to compete here. All he needs to do is make pitches.”

Harvey left for a pinch-hitter in the sixth. The 23-year-old
right-hander walked five and struck out three. He gave up just two
hits.

The Braves played their first in a stretch of 20 straight games,
this one without Chipper Jones. The All-Star third baseman said he
was out with back tightness caused by the bed in his New York hotel
room.

Maholm (10-7) was brilliant from the start at a ballpark in
which he has struggled. Coming in 0-2 with an 8.80 ERA in four
games at Citi Field, including three starts, he faced the minimum
through five innings.

“It was a masterful performance,” Braves manager Fredi
Gonzalez said.

Acquired from the Cubs on July 30, Maholm pitched well enough to
win his Atlanta debut a week ago, giving up three runs and six hits
in seven innings. But he lost 3-2 to Houston, snapping a five-game
winning streak.

He got back on track Friday. After Ruben Tejada reached on
Maholm’s error in the first, David Wright grounded into a double
play. When Daniel Murphy singled to center field, Ronny Cedeno
ended the second inning with a double-play ball to shortstop.

Maholm retired 11 in a row before Rob Johnson’s double in the
sixth with one out. He got out of that jam by inducing two
groundouts, the second a difficult play for shortstop Paul Janish.
Andres Torres’ broken bat rolled along the ground right next to the
ball, but Janish scooped up the grounder and avoided the shard.

“Anytime they got someone on base I executed pitches,” Maholm
said,” and the defense made plays.”

The shutout was the fourth of his career and first since May 28,
2011, for the Pirates against the Cubs.

Maholm struck out five and walked none in his sixth career
complete game. He threw 95 pitches _ 64 strikes.

Uggla’s homer off Edgin ended the left-hander’s scoreless streak
at 10 1-3 innings. Freeman hit a bloop single with one out before
Uggla sent a drive to left-center for his 13th homer and first
since July 8.

NOTES: The Mets signed right-hander Drew Carpenter to a minor
league contract and assigned him to Double-A Binghamton. He made
six relief appearances for Toronto this season and had a 5.00 ERA
without a decision in nine games. Carpenter was designated for
assignment by the Blue Jays and elected to become a free agent. …
MLB made a scoring change in the Braves’ game on July 31 against
Miami. Freeman was given an RBI on a single to left field in the
eighth inning when MLB executive vice president Joe Torre took away
an error from left fielder Greg Dobbs. Originally, Dobbs was given
an error when he blocked the one-hopper with his body and a run
scored.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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