05-24-2007, 03:37 PM
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Baseball: Oliver (Perez) Getting Brave Reviews
Wonder how the Pirates feel now about including Oliver Perez almost as an afterthought in that trade last year? As of today, he's tied for the best record in the NL with 6 wins, and looks to be a strong current and future part of the Mets' rotation. See what can happen to a talented guy who goes to a team where there's a culture of winning? Makes you wonder if the Pirates' ownership will ever
OLIVER GETTING BRAVE REVIEWS
By MARK HALE
May 24, 2007 -- ATLANTA - The last out of the fifth inning came when Chipper Jones grounded to shortstop. Afterward, Oliver Perez pointed at Paul Lo Duca.
It was an interesting gesture, with Perez later explaining that he points at other catchers besides Lo Duca, essentially to acknowledge that they're on the same page. Lo Duca said there doesn't appear to be any logic behind the pointing, noting it sometimes happens during at-bats as well.
Regardless of the story behind it, Perez was certainly on the right page last night, as he was sensational again in the Mets' 3-0 shutout of the Braves. The left-hander gave up four hits in seven shutout innings, earning his NL-best-tying sixth victory of the year.
"He's turning into a monster," Lo Duca said.
Behind the beast, the Mets pushed their NL-East lead back up to 2 1/2 games, meaning they'll leave Turner Field in first place after tonight's series finale.
Last night marked Perez's third straight excellent start, but maybe even more impressively, it was his third straight excellent start against Atlanta.
Perez, who's earned the win in the Mets' three victories over the Braves this year, is now 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA against Atlanta this season. It ranks him as almost a reverse of Jones - a Met who kills the Braves.
"Everybody knew he had the stuff," David Wright said. "It's just a matter of harnessing it."
Perez threw a season-high 122 pitches, but he was clearly still strong in his last inning. On his 121st offering, he hit 93 mph. He allowed one hit over his final four frames, walking two on the night and striking out five.
Perez had a shaky first three innings, putting six Braves on base with three hits, two hits batsmen and a walk. But he didn't allow any runs. Atlanta went 0-for-5 with men in scoring position in that span.
Willie Randolph later said Perez is "proving to me more and more that he can dig down when he has to."
The biggest escape for him was in the third. He got in trouble by allowing a leadoff single to pitcher Chuck James, then threw a wild pitch. One out later, Perez walked Edgar Renteria, and after Jones lined out, Perez plunked Jeff Francoeur to load the bases.
But Perez ended up getting Matt Diaz to fly to right field to end the inning. Afterward, he appeared to point at Lo Duca after the out.