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Braves in rare position of playing meaningless games

Sep 26, 2006 - 3:08 PM NY Mets (93-63) at Atlanta (75-81) 7:35 pm EDT

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- It must be a strange feeling for the Atlanta Braves of just playing out the schedule this time of the season.

Eliminated from the postseason for the first time since 1990, the Braves host the New York Mets in the opening game of a three-game series on Tuesday.

John Smoltz (14-9, 3.72 ERA), a stalwart of Atlanta's run of 14 straight division titles, will make his 34th start of the season. The righthander has faced the Mets three times this season, going 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA.

The National League East champion Mets send Oliver Perez (3-12, 6.53) to the mound. The lefthander was impressive in his only appearance against the Braves this season, hurling a five-hit shutout in an 8-0 triumph on September 6.

New York, which is 2-5 since it clinched the NL East, dropped a 7-3 decision to the Washington Nationals on Monday. Shawn Green smacked his 15th homer for the Mets.

Atlanta has lost its last three games, including a 9-8 setback in the finale of a four-game set at the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

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