NEW YORK – Braves starter Ervin Santana was pitching superbly through six innings Wednesday night against the Mets, then gave up three runs including a two-run homer in the seventh.
Dillon Gee pitched even better through seven innings for the Mets, and the Braves wasted scoring chances in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. And that was the ballgame.
Travis d’Arnaud’s homer in the seventh turned a one-run lead into a 4-1 margin, and the Mets hung on to win by that score and hand the Braves their fourth consecutive defeat after a nine-game winning streak.
The Braves, who need a win Thursday to avoid being swept in the four-game series, went hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position to make them 5-for-38 in those situations during the four-game losing skid. They’ve totaled eight runs and no homers in four games, and have one homer in 344 at-bats over their past 10 games.
Santana (7-6) was charged with six hits and four runs in seven innings, with two walks and four strikeouts.
The score was tied, 1-1, when David Wright doubled to start the Mets’ seventh — a hit that looked like a single if left fielder Justin Upton had fielded and thrown more quickly and/or accurately to second base. He advanced on a fly out before Santana walked Bobby Abreu to put runners on the corners.
Kirk Niewenhuis’ sacrifice fly put the Mets back ahead, and three pitches later d’Arnaud homered for a 4-1 lead. D’Arnaud was hitting .211 with five homers before Wednesday and returned two weeks ago from a stint in Triple-A.
Gee (4-1) made his first start after nearly two months on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle near his pitching shoulder, and picked up where he left off. The right-hander was 3-1 with a 1.36 ERA in his last five starts before the injury, and he limited the Braves to six hits, one run and one walk with four strikeouts in seven-plus innings.
He gave up only two hits through seven innings, then allowed consecutive singles by Tommy La Stella and Gerald Laird (a surprise bunt single) to start the eighth. Against reliever Vic Black, pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit grounded into a fielder’s choice, hustling to avoid the double play.
With runners on the corners and one out, B.J. Upton struck out and Andrelton Simmons flied out deep to left field, a step or two in front of the wall.
The Braves also had two on with one out in the ninth after singles by Justin Upton and Jason Heyward. Chris Johnson popped out foul for the second out and La Stella struck out to end the game.
They are 6-6 against the Mets this season, and the Braves have totaled 44 runs and five homers in those 12 games, including no homers in the past seven games.
Gee faced the minimum 15 batters through five innings, allowing only a walk and a single in that span. After B.J. Upton walked to start the game, he was thrown out trying to steal for the third out of the inning. And after La Stella’s leadoff single in the third inning, Gerald Laird grounded into a double play.
The Braves didn’t get their second hit until Santana beat out an infield single with two out in the sixth inning, and he scored the tying run when Upton followed with a double to left-center.
There was an opportunity for the Braves to take the lead in the seventh after Simmons reached on a fielding error by David Wright to start the inning, and Justin Upton hit a broken-bat single to left-center with one out. But with two on, Heyward struck out looking and Johnson grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
The Braves wasted their opportunity in the seventh, but the Mets took full advantage of theirs after Wright’s leadoff double in the bottom of the inning.
For complete write-thru version of this story with postgame quotes, go to MyAJC.com or use this link.