Errors costly for Braves in 14-inning loss to Mets

NEW YORK – Defensive lapses cost David Hale and the Braves a potential win Sunday in what might have been the rookie’s last major league start for a while. And those who made the miscues had an awful lot of time to stew over them.

Curtis Granderson’s sacrifice fly with one out in the 14th inning gave the Mets a 4-3 win against the Braves in a series finale at Citi Field that took more than 4 1/2 hours to complete.

The Braves had a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning before second baseman Dan Uggla’s second error of the game, a botched double-play grounder that let in the tying run.

“I make it nine times out of 10 or 99 times out of 100, but today it just ate me up,” Uggla said. “It sucks, but it definitely happened. There’s nothing you can do about it, just make the play the next time it comes to you. That’s it.”

Braves rookie sidearmer Gus Schlosser gave up no hits in 3 2/3 innings, but walked two in the 14th inning — one intentionally — before Granderson hit a fly ball just deep enough in left field to bring in the winning run.

Schlosser had walked Kirk Kieuwenhuis to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt, the Braves elected to intentionally walk Eric Young Jr. to set up a potential double play.

The strategy backfired when Schlosser threw a wild pitch that put both runners in scoring position, and Granderson drove in the winning run.

“We try to put Schloss in the best possible position for him to be successful, and the wild pitch — or passed ball, whatever you want to call it — kind of changes the whole dynamic,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose Braves completed a 4-2 trip that includes series wins against the Phillies and Mets.

“Overall, for me it’s not going to diminish the job that (Schlosser) did. He did a terrific job.”

David Wright matched a career high with four hits and was on deck when the Braves walked Young.

“It’s a tough situation because when you (intentionally) walk Young there to face Granderson,” Gonzalez said, “and Wright keeps coming closer. But you’ve got to do what’s in front of you right now. Maybe Granderson rolls into a double play and we don’t have to face Wright.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka, the one-time Red Sox sensation, made just his third relief appearance in the majors and second in two days, and dominated the Braves. He walked the leadoff batter in the 11th inning and then retired nine consecutive batters through the 13th.

Having already used newly anointed closer Kyle Farnsworth in the 10th inning, the Mets in the 14th inning turned to failed closer Jose Valverde, who was stripped of those duties after serving up four homers in three appearances in the past week. But against the Braves, he faced three batters and gave up only a one-out groundball single by Schlosser, his first hit.

That brought to the plate Evan Gattis, who hit three homers in two games at Philadelphia to start the trip. Gattis grounded into an inning-ending double play.

“That’s one of those games that you want to win,” Braves catcher Gerald Laird said. “Because being out there that long, you want to take it home with you. But like I said, we won the series. It was a good series for us.”

The Braves had a scoring chance in the 11th after Uggla drew a leadoff walk against Matsuzaka, but “Dice-K” turned the Braves away, striking out the next three batters – Andrelton Simmons, Ramiro Pena and Evan Gattis.

In the 12th, Matsuzaka retired the Braves in order including strikeouts by Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman.

So much had transpired since the Braves scored three runs in the fifth inning for a 3-2 lead, and the Mets tied in the sixth after the the Braves’ third error of the game.

The tone of the game was set when Young led off the Mets’ first inning with a fly ball that left fielder Justin Upton dropped. Young went to second base on the play, advanced on a fly out, and scored on Wright’s ground out.

The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the second inning on consecutive groundball singles and a walk. Wheeler then grounded to Uggla, who dropped the ball before he could throw to first. One run scored on the play, but Hale got a pop-up and groundout from the first two hitters in the order to avoid any further damage.

The Braves made errors in three different innings and the Mets scored a run in each. Hale did some damage control to limit the Mets to only a single run in each of those innings.

In his fifth career start and third this season, the Marietta native pitched six innings and was charged with six hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks with five strikeouts. Hale could be moved to the bullpen or Triple-A to open a spot in the rotation for Mike Minor coming off the disabled list next weekend.

It was the 17th time in 18 games that a Braves starter allowed two or fewer earned runs.

Only one of Hale’s runs was unearned, since a double play can’t be assumed for official scoring. The Mets had two on with one out in the sixth when Wright scored the tying run on the botched grounder by Uggla.

Hale then struck out Anthony Recker and walked Omar Quintanilla before coaxing a bases-loaded pop-up from pinch hitter Josh Satin.

Mets starter Zack Wheeler of Paulding County faced the hometown Braves for the second time in 12 days and gave up six hits, three runs and three walks with six strikeouts in six innings.

He was staked to a 2-0 lead after two innings, but the Braves got to Wheeler for three consecutive run-scoring doubles in the fifth by Heyward, B.J. Upton and Freeman. Heyward, who had three hits, wasn’t credited with an RBI on his one-out double down the first-base line, which right fielder Granderson fielded before his errant throw let in a run.