WHAT IT MEANS: The losing streak is over at seven games. Barely, thanks to a 3-2 win.
A sign of how badly Terry Collins wanted the game, he used Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey in relief.
Jason Isringhausen served up a solo homer to Jayson Heyward on the first pitch after the starters’ days were done as Atlanta pulled within a run in the eighth inning, demonstrating Collins’ need to lean on capable arms from the rotation.
SECOND THAT: Josh Thole, batting in the No. 2 hole for the first time under Collins and the third time in his major league career, twice drove in Jose Reyes from second base with singles.
New York Mets
GEE WHIZ: Making the first of likely at least two starts in place of Chris Young (biceps tendinitis), Dillon Gee limited the Braves to one run on five hits and two walks while striking out four in an 89-pitch effort over 5 2/3 innings. He improved to 3-2 with a 2.09 ERA in six career major league starts.
Gee was on the ropes in the second, when Dan Uggla tripled to open the half-inning and the first four Braves reached base. However, Gee limited the damage to one run when Atlanta ran itself out of a bigger threat.
With two strikes on opposing pitcher Tommy Hanson and the bases loaded and one out, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called for a suicide squeeze. Hanson missed Gee’s offering and struck out. Thole ran Eric Hinske back toward third and eventually applied a tag for the inning’s final out.
CAPPER: Capuano, who is due to start Thursday against the Houston Astros, replaced Gee with two out and two on in the sixth to face left-handed hitting Freddie Freeman. However, Gonzalez countered by pinch-hitting with switch-hitter Chipper Jones (which is perhaps why Collins went with Capuano instead of lefty specialist Tim Byrdak in the first place, since Capuano as a starting pitcher is more equipped to face righty batters).
Capuano thought he had struck out Jones with an 0-2 offering, but plate ump Tim Tschida ruled it low as the southpaw started to walk toward the dugout. No matter. Jones grounded into a fielder’s choice to third base on the next pitch to end the threat as the Mets maintained a 3-1 lead.
Capuano made 15 relief appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers last season, as he worked back from his second Tommy John surgery after a two-year absence. He appeared once previously in relief for the Mets, on the final day of the opening series in Miami.
Dickey, due to start Wednesday, actually had been an outside consideration for Sunday’s start on two days’ rest. He instead tossed a scoreless seventh inning to preserve a two-run lead.
New York Mets
STRICKEN: David Wright entered the day tied for fourth in the National League in strikeouts with 16, trailing only Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez (18), Arizona’s Kelly Johnson (17) and Houston’s Bill Hall (17). Wright proceeded to strike out in all three of his at-bats against Hanson. He then grounded into a double play after Hanson departed. Wright went 0-for-11 with six strikeouts in the series.
K-ROD TRACKER: Francisco Rodriguez notched his second save and fourth game finished of the season despite a four-pitch leadoff walk to Jones. Rodriguez stranded Jones at third base by striking out Brooks Conrad for the final out on a full-count offering. K-Rod needs 51 games finished in the Mets’ 146 remaining games in order for his contract to vest at $17.5 million for 2012.
WHAT’S NEXT: After a team off-day, the Mets look to try to improve on their major league-worst 1-6 home record. NL Central doormat Houston visits Citi Field for a three-game series beginning Tuesday. Southpaws Jon Niese (0-2, 6.88 ERA) and Wandy Rodriguez (0-2, 7.31) meet in the opener. Second baseman Brad Emaus, who may be running low on at-bats in his second-base evaluation with his average at .162, should get a pair of starts in the series, since the Mets face another left-hander Thursday, with J.A. Happ.