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ATL@MIL: Harang shuts down Brewers in debut

After wading through a season-opening homestand against the Nationals and Reds, the Mets are not about to see their path get any easier.

A daunting nine-game road trip awaits Terry Collins' club, beginning with a 7:10 p.m. game today at Turner Field. The game is the Braves' home opener, pitting Aaron Harang against Bartolo Colon.

"You definitely get excited to pitch in front of that kind of crowd," said Harang, who made four starts for the Mets last season before signing with the Braves late last month. "You want to give the fans reason to keep that adrenaline going."

After Atlanta, the Mets will fly to Anaheim for three games and Phoenix for another three, all without the benefit of an off day.

"We've got a tough schedule this year, with all those West Coast teams," Collins said. "We go out there four times. Those are long trips. But going into Spring Training, we knew the schedule. We knew how good the Nationals were going to be. The Angels are supposed to be a playoff team. The Braves are supposed to be a playoff team. The Diamondbacks, they've had some pitching issues, as we know in Spring Training, but they've got a very good club. You look at your schedule early and say, 'Wow, we'd better be ready.'"

The schedule has been far kinder to the Braves, who flew from Milwaukee to Washington and, after an off day, will be home for six in a row at Turner Field. At the end of their inaugural homestand, the Braves will simply head up the East Coast for road series in Philadelphia and New York. The more daunting portions of their travel schedule come later this summer.

Mets: (Almost) every day is Duda Day
Despite Ike Davis' walk-off grand slam on Saturday and his rally-sparking double on Sunday, the Mets are standing by Lucas Duda as their starter at first base. Insisting that the Mets have to "stick by our plan a little bit," Collins said Duda will be back at first base for Tuesday's series opener in Atlanta.

When Collins named Duda his starting first baseman late last week, he indicated that Davis would still receive one start over the weekend. That happened Sunday, coincidentally hours after the former starter hit a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam against the Reds.

Davis could receive his next start in Atlanta, though he is a better bet to play this weekend in Anaheim, where the Mets will have the benefit of a designated hitter.

Braves: Waiting for offense
When the Braves rapped out six runs in Saturday's win over the Nationals, the total was just two fewer than they had scored in their first four games combined.

"We're still waiting to explode offensively," second baseman Dan Uggla said. "But we've proven last year, and years past, what kind of players we are. Our pitching and our bullpen has been great. We've been getting enough done."

Uggla, Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis have all crawled out to slow starts this season, with Freddie Freeman one of the Braves' lone consistent producers. But the Braves feel it is only a matter of time before their offense, which ranked fourth in the National League last season, begins clicking.

"We haven't really been lighting it up offensively," Uggla said. "We've been doing enough to win games. But we haven't really been lighting it up."

Worth noting
• The Mets have held a lead at some point in all six of their games this year.

• Prior to Sunday's game, the Mets optioned infielder Wilmer Flores to Triple-A Las Vegas, clearing roster space for starting pitcher Jon Niese's return from the disabled list. Flores, who was originally a paternity list sub for second baseman Daniel Murphy, appeared in only one game with the Mets.

• Braves catcher Evan Gattis sat out his second consecutive game Sunday with a stomach bug that has also affected pitchers David Hale and Alex Wood. The Braves hope Gattis will be fully recovered in time for Tuesday's series opener against the Mets.

• The Braves will honor Hank Aaron before the game on the 40th anniversary of his 715th career home run, which eclipsed Babe Ruth's record at the time.

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