Pedro picks up 200th

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NEW YORK – Pedro Martinez earned his 200th win and the New York Mets sent an early message to Atlanta: They might have what it takes at last to topple their longtime nemesis.

Martinez became the seventh active pitcher with 200 victories, and the Mets edged the Braves 4-3 Monday night in the first of 18 meetings this season between the NL East rivals.

Carlos Delgado and Xavier Nady each homered and drove in two runs for the Mets (10-2), who improved the best record in baseball and extended the fastest start in franchise history.

They did it without star center fielder Carlos Beltran, who sat out with a tight right hamstring. New York also lost left fielder Cliff Floyd to a strained muscle in his rib cage.

Andruw Jones hit his fifth homer and second in two days for the Braves, missing injured third baseman Chipper Jones and shortstop Edgar Renteria.

Tagged by Delgado again, Jorge Sosa (0-3) lasted only four-plus innings.

Nady and Paul Lo Duca finished with three hits apiece for the Mets, who have been chasing Atlanta for years. This season, they think they have the talent to finally end the Braves’ record run of 14 consecutive division titles.

One game hardly proves much, but New York is playing some pretty crisp ball right now.

Martinez (3-0) struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and six hits. He is 200-84, the fewest losses for any pitcher with 200 wins.

Duaner Sanchez struck out two of his four batters, and Billy Wagner worked the ninth for his fourth save.

Floyd departed after four innings. He might have been hurt while legging out a double. He was replaced by Jose Valentin.

Andruw Jones’ sacrifice fly put Atlanta ahead in the first, but Nady connected in the second to tie it.

Marcus Giles doubled with two outs in the third and scored on a single by Ryan Langerhans, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead. Lo Duca doubled in the bottom half, and Delgado’s two-run shot to right put the Mets up 3-2.

Delgado is 14-for-27 (.519) lifetime against Sosa with seven homers and 14 RBIs.

Floyd doubled leading off the fourth and came around on Nady’s single for a 4-2 advantage.

Jones homered over the left-field bleachers to start the sixth. He has 18 RBIs.

Notes: Delgado extended his hitting streak to 11 games. … The Braves and Mets played the first of nine games against each other in a span of 21 days. Atlanta won the season series in 2005 (13-6) for the eighth straight year. … Nady hit his third homer in four days. Delgado connected for the second consecutive game and the third time in five days. … Martinez is 3-0 for the first time since 2002 with Boston, when he opened 7-0.

AP-ES-04-17-06 2155EDT

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