This Braves-Mets series felt like the postseason came early. The reigning World Series champions were up to their division challenger, taking three of four from the team that’s led the National League East for 129 consecutive days.

The series concluded with a nail-biter Thursday at Truist Park. Max Fried vs. Jacob deGrom largely lived up to its billing. The Braves used a late run to narrowly top the Mets, 3-2, and take three of four in the series.

Here are five takeaways from Thursday:

1. The Braves’ 21-year-old wunderkinds did it again. With the scored evened at two, the Mets lifted deGrom after a Vaughn Grissom’s two-out infield single in the seventh. Michael Harris greeted Seth Lugo with a double that eluded two middle infielders. Grissom, dashing from first base, flew around third on the aggressive recommendation by third base coach Ron Washington.

Grissom beat the throw to the plate. It was the decisive run of the game and series.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be a close play,’” Grissom said. “It was exciting to be in that position and Mike hitting that ball to get us in there and score. That was a huge moment in the game.”

Manager Brian Snitker: “(Grissom) running hard all the way around allows him to score. If he’s playing base-to-base or not getting after it, as soon as that pitch is thrown, he can’t score. But he’s looking to score there.”

2. It was just another key play for Harris, who’s fresh off an eight-year deal that’ll keep him patrolling center field in his native Atlanta for a near decade. The Braves were inclined to make such a commitment because Harris has shown rare traits. His winning hit Thursday the latest nod to his apt for coming through in important situations.

“I didn’t know (Grissom was headed home) until I slid (into second) and saw him mid-slide,” Harris said. “That really fired me up. I’m just glad he was on the bases because I know he’s really aggressive and he wasn’t going to stop for anything.”

3. Fried vs. deGrom was almost even. The Braves’ lefty, who returned from a stint on the injured list due to a concussion, didn’t show any rust in his first start since Aug. 6. He allowed two runs – via Mark Canha’s two-run homer – on four hits over seven innings. He struck out six.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, it was a longer layoff than normal,” Fried said. “But when you’re going up against a guy like Jacob deGrom, you bring everything you got. I felt pretty sharp. I was really mixing pitches, worked well with (catcher) Travis (d’Arnaud) today. I thought he called an unbelievable game and really helped me along. Then the guys played great defense, put together really good at-bats. It was a great win.”

DeGrom retired 12 consecutive Braves after Austin Riley’s RBI single in the third, part of a two-run inning that gave the Braves an early advantage. Grissom’s hit in the seventh ended deGrom’s run and outing. He threw 95 pitches (68 strikes), striking out nine Braves without issuing a walk. But he lost for the first time since April 2021 (though he’s missed a sizable chunk of time with injuries).

4. Fried’s homerless streak ended at 69-1/3 innings. Before Canha’s blast in the fifth, Fried hadn’t allowed a home run since Pittsburgh’s Jack Suwinski homered June 9. Fried’s run was the longest streak in the majors. He’s allowed seven homers in 145-1/3 innings this season.

Braves outfielder Michael Harris (far right) and teammates celebrate a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets to win the series in a MLB baseball game on Thursday, August 18, 2022, in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

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Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

5. The Braves took three of four from the Mets at Truist Park, a tremendous response after dropping four of five in Queens on the last road trip. They trimmed the Mets’ East lead to 3-1/2 games with just over seven weeks remaining in the regular season.

“This was a good series,” Snitker said. “It was like a playoff series. … This was kind of a big game (Thursday), it was a two-game swing. … Really exciting (atmosphere). It’s been like that all year. It was like this last year. It’s been amazing how the fans have supported these guys. They appreciate it, too. It’s a fun place to play out there when it’s like a playoff atmosphere every night.”

Stat to know

16 (The Mets won or tied their first 16 series against the NL East – until the Braves ended that run this week. The 1970 Reds own the record with 18 such series to begin a campaign, per Elias. The Braves outscored the Mets 28-12 across four games.)

Quotable

“Huge game, especially winning the series against the Mets, who have first place right now. This is one step closer to us taking first place back.” – Harris

Up next

The Braves host the Astros this weekend in a 2021 World Series rematch. Kyle Wright (14-5, 3.14), coming off extended rest, will start against Astros right-hander Lance McCullers (1-0, 0.00) Friday night.

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