As encouraged as the Braves were in winning six of seven games against last-place teams to complete an 8-3 road trip Sunday, it couldn’t be overlooked that they hit just .211 in the last nine games of that trip.
And while they fattened up their road record with that 6-1 tear through Houston and Philadelphia, the Braves still needed to figure some things out at Turner Field, where they had lost 10 of their past 15 games before Monday’s homestand opener against the Mets.
For much of the night it looked as if the Braves would return home with a thud, falling behind 3-0 after three innings and mustering four hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings against Mets starter Zack Wheeler, a Smyrna native. But these are the Mets, after all, and in the eighth inning they came unglued when the Braves turned up the pressure.
The Braves used three hits, two walks and three huge Mets errors in the eighth inning to score four runs and turn a two-run deficit into a 5-3 win that extended their winning streak to five games, matching their season high set in April.
Trailing 3-1 entering the eighth, the Braves got consecutive singles from Justin Upton and Jason Heyward to start the inning against right-handed reliever Jeurys Familia. Chris Johnson followed with a comebacker to Familia, who fielded the potential double-play grounder and bounced a throw to second for an error that instead loaded the bases with none out.
Rookie Tommy La Stella followed with an RBI single to center field, and two runs scored on the play when Juan Lagares booted the bouncer and couldn’t pick it up cleanly even after he caught up with it. The score was suddenly tied, and a crowd that had been dormant for much of the night was on its feet and fired up.
One fielder’s choice and a Ryan Doumit walk later the bases were loaded again. B.J. Upton struck out looking for the second out, but Andrelton Simmons’ grounder to third base went in and out of the glove of Eric Campbell, whose rushed throw to first was too late. The go-ahead run scored on that error, and the Braves added one more run when Freddie Freeman drew a bases-loaded walk against lefty Dana Eveland to push the Braves’ lead to 5-3.
Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 25th save.
The Mets built a 3-0 lead against Braves starter Alex Wood with a run in each of the first three innings, including a homer by Granderson to start the game. It was third leadoff homer allowed by Wood in nine starts this season, and the 26th for Granderson in his career.
Heyward’s leadoff double in the fourth inning was the first hit for the Braves.
Wheeler struggled with control, walking five and hitting a batter all in the first four innings. But the East Paulding County High graduate limited the damage by striking out Justin Upton with two on to end the third inning, retiring Christian Bethancourt and Wood consecutively with two on in the fourth, and getting Upton to ground into an inning-ending double play after Freeman’s sacrifice fly in the fifth.
The Braves couldn’t get enough hits when it mattered to cash in on those opportunities, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position during the first seven innings and leaving eight runners on base in those innings.
But when the Mets gave them opportunities in the eighth, the Braves crashed through and took full advantage.
Wood settled down and pitched six innings, allowing six hits and three runs with one walk and seven strikeouts.
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