NEW YORK – With surging Ender Inciarte in front of him in the lineup and all three guys behind him streaking, Adonis Garcia has been a bit overshadowed lately. He took care of that Tuesday.
Garcia’s three-run homer in the seventh inning provided a four-run lead for the Braves, who needed it all as they hung on to beat the Mets, 5-4, for their fourth consecutive win. They also clinched a second consecutive series against postseason contenders Washington and New York and won their fifth straight game at Citi Field.
“We’re not playing like our record,” said interim manager Brian Snitker, whose Braves have won 12 of their past 20 and improved to 42-45 since an 18-46 start. “We’re playing like we’re fighting for a division and a wild card. I can’t be more proud of the guys. My hat’s off to them and how they come every day. They leave it out there.”
After the Mets scored three runs in the eighth and left two runners on to end the inning, Braves closer Jim Johnson pitched the ninth and gave up a two-out single before striking out Yoenis Cespedes to record his 15th consecutive save.
Julio Teheran (6-10) continued his recent superb pitching against the Mets with seven innings of one-run ball, and Freddie Freeman extended his on-base streak to 40 games and his hitting streak to 23 games with a seventh-inning double.
Teheran allowed five hits, one run and one walk with one strikeout, improving to 3-0 with an 0.73 ERA in his past five starts against the Mets, including 2-0 with an 0.90 ERA in four this season.
The Braves took the last two games of a weekend series against NL East leader Washington and have started their final trip with two wins against the Mets, who had won 11 of 14 to take the NL wild-card lead before the Braves came to town.
“I know where they sit in the league and they had a terrible first half, but they’ve got a good lineup,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “It’s well-balanaced. They’ve been scoring a lot of runs lately. Freddie’s hot. Matt Kemp, we can’t get him out. We knew we were going to be in for a dogfight, especially tonight with Teheran.”
The Braves, who’ve split 18 games with the Mets, go for a second consecutive Citi Field series sweep Wednesday when they send rookie Ryan Weber to the mound against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon, in Weber’s seventh career start and Colon’s 498th.
Both of Freeman’s streaks are career-bests and the longest such active streaks in the majors, and the on-base streak is the second-longest in the majors this season and longest by a Brave since Chipper Jones’ 41-gamer in 2008. Freeman has 79 extra-base hits, one shy of joining Jones as the only Atlanta Braves to have at least 80 extra-base hits in a season.
Garcia’s homer was his third hit and gave the Braves a 5-1 lead. But after Teheran the Mets scored three runs in the eighth, all charged to rookie Jose Ramirez, who ran into trouble with one out after walking Asdrubal Cabrera, then hitting Yoenis Cespedes with a pitch. Curtis Granderson followed with an RBI double and T.J. Rivera had a sacrifice fly.
Eric Campbell’s pinch-hit single off left-hander Ian Krol drove in the third run of the game to trim the lead to 5-4. Garcia’s fielding error on a grounder put runners on the corners before Krol induced an inning-ending groundout from Travis d’Arnaud, the brother of Braves utility player Chase d’Arnaud.
After the Mets took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Jose Reyes hit a leadoff triple and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a double, Teheran retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced and gave up no hits in that span.
“The whole team has been great, and the offense has been at the point where they want to be,” Teheran said. “In my mind, I was just trying to hold (the Mets down), put up as many zeroes as I could and give a chance to our guys. We scored what we needed to score.”
Since Matt Kemp joined the Braves on Aug. 2, Snitker said the veteran cleanup hitter has been “the rock in the middle of everything; he legitimizes our lineup.” Kemp was in the middle of things again in a game-turning sixth inning, when his bases-loaded single off Mets starter Robert Gsellman tied the score, 1-1. Kemp extended his own hit streak to 12 games.
Nick Markakis followed with a bases-loaded walk against lefty reliever Josh Smoker to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. The Braves still had the bases loaded with one out, but failed to score again in the inning. Not to worry, Garcia would take care of the tight score an inning later.
Dansby Swanson led off the seventh inning with a single that gave him five hits in the first two games of the series and made him 10-for-18 in five games against the Mets including four multi-hit games. One out later, Ender Inciarte greeted lefty reliever with a single.
Blevins’ next pitch was crushed by Garcia for his 24th homer in 722 plate appearances over two seasons.
“I said the other day, he has a game where you wonder if you need to give him a day off,” Snitker said. “Then he gets three hits and three RBIs. I mean, he’s a strong kid. He’s got some big hits all year for us.”