Heyward's 4 hits, 4 RBIs power Braves' 9-3 win over Mets

Jason Heyward is back in full effect, just in time for the stretch run of the Braves' pennant race.

The resurgent rookie continued his recent torrid pace with four hits and four RBIs including a three-run homer in the Braves' 9-3 win against the New York Mets on Monday night Turner Field.

Heyward also made a thrilling play to score from first base on Martin Prado's two-out single in the sixth inning, then pounded his hands together and pumped his fists to send a charge through the Braves' dugout and a small-but-excited crowd.

"I'm not surprised by him," said Prado, whose two-run single pushed the lead to 8-3. "Since I saw that guy in spring training, I knew that he's going to be one of the guys that's going to change everything with this team. As he goes, we go."

The Braves won the opener of a four-game series and pushed their lead to 3 games in the National League East over the Phillies, who lost to the Dodgers 3-0.

Heyward (4-for-5) matched his single-game career highs for hits and RBIs. All of his RBIs came on two-out hits – a homer in the second inning (his 16th) and a single in the sixth, when the Braves scored three runs to open a five-run lead.

"Jason had a great night offensively," manager Bobby Cox said. "Baserunning, twice he was good. He knocked in four runs, had four hits…."

Of Heyward's dash from first to home and the head-first, reach-for-the-base-ahead-of-the-tag slide, Cox said he "almost never" saw someone do that. Much less someone 6 feet 5 and 245 pounds.

"Unbelievable," Cox said. "He can do things on the bases. His instincts are so great."

Heyward is 17-for-32 (.531) with four homers and nine RBIs in his past eight games, after batting .169 with one homer and three RBIs in his previous 18 games. If the thumb injury that slowed him for six weeks before the All-Star break is lingering, Heyward isn't showing any signs of it.

"That's just staying with it, keep working, get some timing back, get some comfort back and be able to go from there," he said. ""It's always great to be able to contribute, man, from Day 1 to the last day of the season."

Heyward has said the sore thumb won't heal until the offseason, but he's crushing balls as he did during April and most of May, when he got out to a big lead in the National League Rookie of the Year race.

Brian McCann also homered for the Braves, giving him nine homers and 32 RBIs in his past 36 games. He had a game-ending home run in Sunday's 7-6 win against the Florida Marlins.

The Braves provided plenty of run support Monday for the second consecutive start by Jair Jurrjens (6-4). But this time there was no repeat of the huge blown lead in Wednesday's 12-10 loss at Colorado.

Jurrjens worked around trouble most of the night, allowing six hits and six walks in 5-2/3 innings but limiting the Mets to three runs while recording eight strikeouts. He matched his season high with 108 pitches (62 strikes).

"J.J. was off his mark a little tonight," Cox said. "He had unbelievable stuff, [a lot of] strikeouts, but the walks got his pitch count up. We were hoping he could go seven tonight, at least. But he battled through it. He just got off target, lost his aim."

The right-hander is 6-0 with a 2.15 ERA in eight home starts, compared to 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA in nine road starts.

The Mets had two runners on base with one out in the first inning and again in the fifth, and Jurrjens worked out of both jams without allowing a run.

He struck out David Wright and Ike Davis consecutively to end the first inning. In the fifth, Wright popped out and Davis struck out to end the inning (Davis struck out all three times he faced Jurrjens).

The Mets scored two runs in the second  to tie, but the Braves answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning on three consecutive two-out hits, starting with Jurrjens' single to center.

Omar Infante singled and Heyward drove lefty starter Pat Misch's 2-1 change-up to the right-field bleachers for a 5-2 lead.

Jurrjens issued a leadoff walk in the third inning, then struck out the next three batters – Wright, Davis and Francoeur.

The Mets didn't score again until the sixth inning, when Francoeur hit a leadoff single and Thole tripled off the wall as Heyward made a leaping attempt.

When Hernandez followed with a walk before Carlos Beltran hit a slow roller in front of the mound for a fielder's choice out in a rundown between third and home. One out later,  Luis Castillo walked to load the bases.

Lefty Eric O'Flaherty relieved Jurrjens and induced an inning-ending groundout by Chris Carter.

"O'Flaherty came in and got a huge out there," Cox said. "No telling what's going to happen if they get a hit there."