Jon Niese limited the Braves to one run in eight innings and sweated out the final frame from the dugout. After inheriting a five-run lead, Josh Edgin and Frank Francisco combined to walk four, hit a batter and surrender a two-run double. Jon Rauch then entered and stranded two runners in scoring position by striking out Jason Heyward to preserve a 6-5 win against the Braves on Sunday night.
The Mets traveled to Cincinnati postgame and are off today. The three-game series opens Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. at Great American Ball Park, with Chris Young (3-6, 4.87 ERA) opposing right-hander Mat Latos (10-3, 3.81). The Mets also make a stop in Washington during the two-city trip.
"A six-game road trip against the best team in the Central and the best team in the East," Terry Collins said. "Certainly a tough task."
Monday's news reports:
• Before the late drama, Niese matched the second-longest outing of his career and David Wright produced a pair of doubles and scored both times. Jordany Valdespin also delivered a solo homer and scored twice. Read game recaps in the Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News, Record and Post.
• Collins reiterated Johan Santana will be fine to start Friday's game in Washington. “He's had one start after being out a month -- or three weeks. Any conversations we have about the future, they're down the road,” Collins said pregame Sunday. “They’re not going to be right now. Again, I think Johan’s shoulder is fine. We’ll take a look after a few more starts and decide how he’s feeling -- is there any more fatigue setting in? But, right now, according to me -- I haven't talked to Sandy [Alderson] about it, I haven't talked to Dan [Warthen] about it -- but I certainly have no plans at the immediate time of shutting Johan Santana down.” Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post and Newsday.
• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post suggests the Mets trade Scott Hairston this month, once they place him on waivers. Writes Davidoff:
The Mets have yet to place Scott Hairston on waivers this month, according to an industry source, which makes sense. It figures that the Mets want to reap the benefits of Hairston for a while longer before putting him through the waivers process, at which time they’ll have a decision to make. That time will come by Aug. 31, and really, the Mets’ decision should be simple. If they want to send the correct message to their fans, they’ll trade the righty-hitting outfielder. The Mets must cease worrying about small goals such as finishing at .500 or better, or keeping their fans mildly interested through the regular season. Given where they are in their development -- in need of myriad key pieces -- they need to think about a bigger picture. And Hairston is the one player whose value could be maximized at this juncture of the season.
• Zach Schonbrun in the Times notes Mike Baxter's start Saturday in right field was his first time playing behind Santana since the no-hitter-preserving catch in left field on June 1 that left Baxter with a displaced right collarbone and DL trip. Writes Schonbrun:
As Johan Santana delivered the first few pitches of his start against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night, the Mets’ Mike Baxter momentarily felt an eerie familiarity and smiled to himself. Baxter, the right fielder, was playing behind Santana for the first time since his remarkable stumbling catch in left saved Santana’s no-hitter June 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals. “You think, It’s been two and a half, almost three months, jeez,” since the no-hitter, Baxter said Sunday. “So, yeah, it did cross my mind.”
• 2012 first-round pick Gavin Cecchini, who suffered a fracture to the tip of his middle finger, made his first appearance in 11 days with Kingsport as the DH in a 6-5, 13-inning loss. Juan Centeno and Allan Dykstra had three RBIs apiece in Binghamton's 7-2 win against Harrisburg. Jenrry Mejia went five innings for Buffalo and earned the win after surrendering two runs, neither earned. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.
TRIVIA: Who did the Mets acquire from the Reds in the last trade between the clubs, on Aug. 20, 2007?
Sunday's answer: Santana's most losses have come against the Braves, against whom the southpaw is 3-9 in his career. The next three on the list are Minnesota's AL Central rivals: the Indians (8-7), White Sox (13-6) and Tigers (11-5).