Matt Harvey can't match Atlanta's Paul Maholm

Matt Harvey pitches against the Braves at Citi

Matt Harvey pitches against the Braves at Citi Field. (Aug. 10, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress)

The first three innings of Matt Harvey's Citi Field debut didn't go as he planned.

He walked five and allowed a two-run homer. He was hit in the left thigh by a line drive.

After he got hit, Harvey waved off the Mets' dugout. He didn't want anyone to check on him. He just wanted to get back on the mound and pitch.

"It ---- me off," Harvey said. "I'm going out and walking people and then I get smoked by a line drive. It ---- me off, to be honest with you."

The Mets did check on their prized prospect, of course, and he was OK.

He overcame the walks and the line drive hit by Freddie Freeman -- it helped that Daniel Murphy was able to field the third-inning ball and turn it into an out -- and allowed only two runs in six innings.

Unfortunately for the Mets, Paul Maholm was better. He pitched a three-hitter as the Braves won, 4-0, before a crowd of 25,101 that included about 100 of Harvey's family and friends from Mystic, Conn.

Jason Heyward's first-inning home run was all the Braves got off Harvey as they improved to 23-8 since July 5. Dan Uggla hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Josh Edgin.

Harvey (1-3, 3.63 ERA) didn't look as if he was going to be around long after he walked two in a 33-pitch first inning. But he recovered to throw 101 pitches total and gave up only two hits. He struck out three.

"I was very impressed after the fact that he battled through the first two innings, he settled down and started making pitches," manager Terry Collins said. "Looked like he relaxed a little bit and got into a nice, easy groove."

Harvey walked Michael Bourn leading off the game on a 3-and-2 pitch. One out later, Heyward smacked his 19th home run of the season to right-center.

Harvey walked Uggla, too, in the first and also walked a pair in the second inning and one in the third. But the Braves didn't get another hit until David Ross doubled leading off the fourth.

"Coming out and walking five guys in the first three innings, that's the last thing you want to do," Harvey said. "You never want to come out and give up two runs in the first inning and throw 30-something pitches, either.

"I did everything I did to figure it out as quick as possible."

Scott Hairston helped Harvey when he made a diving catch on Paul Janish's liner to right for the first out of the fourth. That began a string of nine straight retired by Harvey; his strikeouts were of the next batter (Maholm) and two of the batters in his final inning (Uggla leading off and Ross for the third out).

Maholm, whom the Braves picked up from the Cubs on July 30, frustrated the Mets in his second start for Atlanta. He didn't walk a batter, struck out five and needed only 95 pitches for the fourth shutout of his career.

Maholm (10-7, 3.50) has actually been pitching well for quite some time. He went 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA in July before the Cubs dealt him.

"He pounded the strike zone," Collins said. "We swung at a lot of pitches early in the count . . . We didn't adjust very good. We just kept pulling and pulling."

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