Delgado's 9th-inning hit earns Mets sweep of Braves

NEW YORK (AP) -- Carlos Delgado was mobbed after his winning hit found the grass in left field Thursday night. As David Wright crossed the plate with an exuberant belly first slide, the New York Mets poured out of the dugout to celebrate in the Shea Stadium infield.

The centerpiece of the Mets' resurgence this season was front and center again.

Delgado singled in the winning run in the ninth inning and tied a career high with five hits, sending New York to a 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves that completed a three-game sweep.

"We continue to put ourselves in position day in and day out to win games," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "We have a good team. We have good chemistry. A lot of things are really working in our favor right now."

After a painfully slow start, Delgado has 49 RBIs in his last 48 games and is batting .321 with 12 homers since July 1. Powered by the slugging first baseman, New York is 31-15 in its last 46 games.

"I'm seeing the ball well," Delgado said. "It was a big win for us. We're really confident. We've been able to find a way to win ballgames. That is something we weren't doing early in the year."

Wright hit a one-out double off Vladimir Nunez (0-1), and Carlos Beltran was intentionally walked before Delgado hit a sharp liner to left. Omar Infante slipped as he tried to track down the drive, and the ball glanced off his glove.

"Right in the lights," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Double play, we'd get Wright at second, too. He had taken off, he was halfway home. Can't fault him. I mean ball gets in the lights, you can't see it."

Wright, who briefly stopped before third when he thought Infante might haul it in, recovered in time to lay out for a victorious slide across the plate.

"I just kind of dove for it," Wright said. "I couldn't get to home plate soon enough."

Wright hit his 25th homer and finished with three hits for New York, which has won three straight and nine of 10. The Mets increased their NL East lead to 2 1/2 games over Philadelphia, which lost 4-3 to Washington.

It was New York's first three-game sweep of Atlanta at home since Sept. 1-3, 2003.

"We're playing extremely good baseball coming down the stretch," Manuel said. "We just have to continue playing good baseball and let things happen the way they have been happening."

Luis Ayala (2-8) pitched 1 1/3 shutout innings to earn his first win since he was acquired from the Nationals on Sunday.

Yunel Escobar went deep on Pedro Martinez's first pitch, and Brian McCann hit a two-run double for Atlanta, which has lost five straight. The stumbling Braves are 11-22 since the All-Star break and have lost 27 straight one-run games on the road.

Mike Hampton, the 2000 NLCS MVP with the Mets, pitched six strong innings in his first appearance against his former club since he got the decision in an 8-1 loss at Shea on July 17, 2005. Hampton missed the previous two seasons due to elbow operations and had his 2008 debut pushed back almost four months by other injuries.

"It was fun being out there," he said. "I might have an opportunity to be out there one more time in September before this place goes but it'll definitely hold a special place in my memories in my baseball career."

Atlanta was leading 4-3 when Hampton departed, but the Mets rallied in the seventh. With runners on first and second and two out, first baseman Martin Prado fielded Delgado's grounder and made an errant throw to reliever Will Ohman covering first.

Nick Evans scored and Beltran advanced to third on the play but Julian Tavarez got Fernando Tatis to fly out to the warning track in left, ending the inning.

Prado made his first career start at first after Greg Norton was scratched due to a jammed left shoulder.

"Lose a ball in the lights, it costs you a ballgame. A little flip to first base, costs you a ballgame," Cox said. "Neither one were easy plays."

Martinez settled down after allowing a first-pitch homer for the second time in four starts. San Diego's Jody Gerut connected on the right-hander's first pitch Aug. 6, and Escobar did it for the Braves, hitting his third career leadoff shot.

Martinez retired 15 of the next 17 batters before Atlanta rallied for three runs in the sixth. McCann doubled into the right-field corner to drive in Escobar and Chipper Jones, giving Atlanta a 4-3 lead. McCann scampered home when Infante's soft liner landed just out of the reach of Beltran in center.

Martinez allowed seven hits, struck out six and walked one in seven-plus innings.

The Mets built a 3-1 lead behind Delgado and Wright.

Delgado hit two-out RBI singles in the first and third, and doubled against Hampton in the fifth. The slugger is 8-for-12 with three doubles and seven RBIs against the left-hander.

Wright went deep in the fifth against Hampton, who allowed eight hits, struck out two and walked one.

Game notes
Delgado also had five hits for Toronto at Seattle on May 7, 1998. ... Braves LHP Tom Glavine underwent surgery on his left elbow and shoulder and is expected be ready for spring training.