NEW YORK – Julio Teheran got the decision Wednesday, but Braves shortstop supreme Andrelton Simmons won the game.
Simmons made an extraordinary play to end the eighth inning and prevent the tying run from scoring in a 3-2 Braves win against the Mets at Citi Field.
With a runner at third base and two out, Travis d’Arnaud hit a sharp ground ball that first looked like it would get through the hole between third base and shortstop. But Simmons not only got to the ball, he fielded it, leaped into the air and made a strong, one-bounce throw that first baseman Freddie Freeman scooped for the third out.
Simmons was 5-6 steps into the outfield, with his momentum carrying him away from the base, when he threw.
The play, which initially looked impossible, wasn’t even close enough for the Mets to challenge it. It was among two or three finest plays made by Simmons, who has had seemingly countless highlight-reel moments in his three seasons in the majors and last year won both a Gold Glove as the National League’s top defensive shortstop and the Platinum Glove as the league’s top defender at any position.
Even after Simmons’ play for the ages, the Braves had another heart-in-the-throats inning in the ninth after closer Craig Kimbrel gave up a single and walk to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt advanced both runners, Kimbrel got Ruben Tejada to hit a soft grounder to third baseman Phil Gosselin, who threw to the plate for the second out.
Kimbrel got Kirk Nieuwenhuis to pop out for the final out to record his 39th save in 43 attempts.
The Braves led 3-1 before the Mets started the eighth against reliever Jordan Walden with a single, a wild pitch, a walk and an RBI single by Juan Lagares. Lucas Duda then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. That was huge for the Braves, but the Mets and their faithful still thought they had a good chance to tie the game when d’Arnaud hit his grounder to the left side.
Until Simmons entered the picture and owned the night. A night that until then had belonged to Teheran (13-9), who won his third consecutive start.
A few Braves pitchers have had difficulty this season shutting down opponents immediately after being staked to a lead. Teheran showed how it’s done.
After the Braves scored two runs in the top of the third to take the lead, Teheran allowed only one walk over the next four innings.
When he gave up a one-out single and a walk in the seventh inning, reliever David Carpenter retired Wilmer Flores on a pop-up and Ruben Tejada on a ground out to Simmons to end the inning and preserve the 3-1 lead.
Flores had a game-tying homer in the second inning, after Braves leadoff man Jason Heyward homered off Zack Wheeler (9-9) to start the game.
Paulding County native Wheeler allowed only four hits and three runs (two earned) with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Teheran was charged with three hits, one run and two walks with four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings, and improved to 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his past three starts.
Flores’ homer off Teheran was the seventh he allowed in his past six road starts, but he flipped the switch to ace mode after that. Teheran retired 14 of the next 15 batters, allowing only a Flores walk in the fifth inning.
Eric Campbell’s one-out single in the seventh was just the third hit off Teheran, who was replaced after walking the next batter, Matt den Dekker. He had thrown 101 pitches and manager Fredi Gonzalez preferred to have Carpenter face Flores the third time through.