Sunday, August 12, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Mets 6, Braves 5
By Adam Rubin
WHAT IT MEANS: The Mets salvaged the series finale … oh so barely.
Handed a five-run lead in the ninth, Josh Edgin and Frank Francisco combined to walk four, hit a batter and force in two runs. Martin Prado then doubled in two more runs to pull the Braves within a run and force Terry Collins to pull his closer.
With two runners in scoring position, Jon Rauch mercifully recorded the final out by striking out Jason Heyward as the Mets beat Atlanta, 6-5, Sunday night. Even the strikeout was a close call, with Rob Johnson narrowly completing a throw to first base to complete the out. Rauch earned his first save since May 8.
Jon Niese escaped a first-inning jam and ultimately limited Atlanta to one run and six hits in eight innings and David Wright doubled twice and scored on Ike Davis' singles each time in what became the narrowest of victories.
Wright, already the franchise RBI leader, notched No. 800 of his career.
Francisco had entered with a five-run lead, two out in the ninth and the bases loaded once Edgin issued two walks and hit a batter.
Things got dicey. Juan Francisco fouled off four straight full-count pitches from the closer before walking to force in a run. Michael Bourn also walked, forcing in a second run. Prado then had the two-run double.
Niese allowed a game-opening double to Bourn and walked the No. 2 hitter Prado, but rallied by striking out Heyward and coaxing a 6-4-3 double play from Chipper Jones after Bourn had stolen third base. The lone damage against Niese came on a leadoff homer in the second by Freddie Freeman.
Niese retired 12 straight at one point, before Brian McCann’s two-out single in the seventh. The eight-inning outing matched the second longest of his career. His lone nine-inning complete game came June 10, 2010, in a one-hit shutout against the Padres.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, four Mets pitchers have multiple starts of eight-plus innings and one run or fewer allowed against the Braves since 1991: Al Leiter (four), Rick Reed (three), Pedro Martinez (two) and Niese (two).
Ben Sheets, who had tossed six scoreless innings against the Mets on July 15 in his first major league appearance in two years, this time surrendered five runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk in six innings.
The Mets grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first when Mike Baxter singled, Wright delivered an RBI double and Davis plated Wright with a single. Ruben Tejada had an RBI single in the second. Jordany Valdespin, after striking out in his first two at-bats, gave the Mets a 5-1 lead in the sixth with a solo homer against Sheets.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets will fly to Cincinnati after tonight’s game and spend an off-day there before opening a series against the Reds on Tuesday. Chris Young (3-6, 4.87 ERA) opposes right-hander Mat Latos (10-3, 3.81) in the opener. It’s a difficult six-game trip for the Mets, who follow the series against the NL Central leaders with a visit to D.C. to face the NL East-leading Nationals.