Chipper Jones helps Braves top Mets, snap 3-game skid

NEW YORK -- Chipper Jones earned himself another turn in the two-hole.

Jones looked real comfortable starting as the No. 2 batter for the first time since 1996, hitting a double and homer and helping the Atlanta Braves snap a three-game skid with a 6-5 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader made necessary by the threat of Hurricane Irene.

The Braves were forced to make a quick stop in New York to play two games postponed Aug. 27-28 after being handed their first three-game sweep of the season, by the Phillies. They next head to St. Louis for a crucial set against the team trailing them in the wild-card race. Only several hundred fans were on hand to see the start of the twinbill at 4:10 p.m.

Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez tried shaking up his scuffling club, losers of five of six over all coming in, by stacking his top on-base percentage guys up front.

"We got some productivity up there, we got some people getting on base," Gonzalez said. "It was a good three-run first."

Jones and his teammates responded with their biggest offensive output in six games. Cleanup hitter Freddie Freeman hit a two-run double and Martin Prado had an RBI single in the first. Jason Heyward had the go-ahead hit, an RBI single in the third off Chris Schwinden, making his major league debut. Jones tied it with his 48th homer against the Mets leading off the third, his most against any opponent.

Jose Reyes led off the ninth with a pinch-hit single off Craig Kimbrel, but the closer extended his rookie record by retiring the next three for his 43rd save.

Jason Bay hit a grand slam for New York, which had won 10 of 13.

After two days of continuous rain in New York, members of the Citi Field grounds crew, holding propane tanks, dried areas of the infield using portable heat torches while others applied a drying agent to the dirt.

Not long after, a matchup of young starters got off to a rough start. Mike Minor (5-2) settled down first, though.

"It was nice to see him not spook -- for lack of a better word," Gonzalez said, "and give us a nice outing."

Schwinden (0-1) gave up three runs with two outs in the first. Making his 12th start this year, Minor was tagged for a two-out grand slam in the bottom half. He was nicked for just four more hits in five innings while Schwinden gave up two more runs and left trailing 5-4 after throwing 100 pitched in his five.

"I think it was probably nerves more than anything," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I've seen him pitch enough to know that his command is always pretty good. I'm sure he was just a little nervous today. He left some balls up in the zone that they hit pretty hard."

The Braves scored a run in the eighth with a single, two walks and a hit batter. Mets reliever Tim Byrdak, who ran through the clubhouse before the game in a football referee's uniform, blowing a whistle and throwing a yellow flag at teammates, entered with the bases loaded and hit Michael Bourn with a pitch to make it 6-4. Byrdak struck out Jones to end the inning.

The run was needed, because Nick Evans hit a sacrifice fly off Jonny Venters in the bottom half.

Schwinden, a 22nd round draft pick in 2008, went 8-8 with a 3.95 ERA for Triple-A Buffalo this year. He retired his first better then gave up a double to Jones and walked Brian McCann. Dan Uggla grounded out and Freeman doubled in two runs and move to third on the throw home. Martin Prado followed with an RBI single.

"The nerves took over a bit. It kind of messed with my mechanics," said Schwinden, whose dad was at the game.

After Minor got two easy flyouts to start the bottom half, Lucas Duda singled, David Wright doubled and Angel Pagan walked. Bay followed with his second grand slam of the season and fourth of his career.

"Curveball, flipped it in there," Minor said. "Shoulda went after him with a fastball and made him hit it."

The 24-year-old right-hander gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings.

Game notes
Mets ace Johan Santana (shoulder) will make his second rehab start Friday with Class-A Savannah in a playoff game. The lefty threw three scoreless innings for Class-A St. Lucie in late July but was shut down because of fatigue in the surgically repaired shoulder. ... Mets longtime spokesman Jay Horwitz broke his ankle Thursday and will have surgery on Monday. ... Gonzalez said Tommy Hanson (shoulder tendinitis) could throw off a mound this weekend. Gonzalez said Hanson was progressing nicely. ... Mets reliever Bobby Parnell turned 27. ... The Braves swept the Mets in a doubleheader April 16, a makeup from a rainout a day earlier.