By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Brandon Nimmo drove in a big run in the ninth inning to give the New York Mets a three-run cushion.
They didn’t want to give the Atlanta Braves a chance at another last-gasp rally.
“It’s just kind of scary out there when the Braves come up in the bottom of the ninth and we’re only up by two runs or so, especially on this road trip,” Nimmo said. “We’ve had some tough losses, so to be able to get that last run was really big.”
Nimmo and Adrian Gonzalez each had two RBIs, Jason Vargas pitched five scoreless innings and New York beat the Braves 4-1 on Wednesday night.
Atlanta dropped into second place in the NL East, one-half game behind Washington, the two-time defending division champion that begins a four-game series at SunTrust Park on Thursday.
It was a much-needed reprieve for the Mets, who had lost seven of nine and are 16-25 since starting the season 11-1.
Poor play and injuries have haunted New York the past few days, but manager Mickey Callaway had a good feeling when shortstop Amed Rosario cleanly fielded a hard grounder in the eighth to start a double play and strand a runner at third.
“It’s the play that we’ve been lacking,” Callaway said. “We needed to get it turned, and that was probably the difference in the game.”
The Braves had rallied to win two of the first three games in the series in the ninth, but they couldn’t muster a comeback this time, going down in order as Robert Gsellman earned his second save. Callaway used his usual closer, Jeurys Familia, to face the top of Atlanta’s order in the eighth.
Familia wasn’t sharp, but he got Nick Markakis to ground the ball to Rosario and prevent another night of late drama from the Braves.
“I had a good feeling right there and then they made a great play on Nick’s ball,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “That thing was two inches from being a base hit and here we go.”
Vargas (2-3) pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one intentional walk with two strikeouts.
The Mets got what they needed from Vargas, who was pitching on three days’ rest and began the game 1-3 with a 10.62 ERA in five starts in his first season with New York.
New York made it 2-0 in the seventh off Atlanta starter Julio Teheran (4-3) when Rosario tripled with two outs and scored on Nimmo’s single.
The Mets went up 3-1 in the eighth on Gonzalez’s single off Sam Freeman and took a 4-1 lead in the ninth when Rosario doubled off Miguel Socolovich and scored on Nimmo’s double.
New York led 1-0 in the fourth when Jay Bruce doubled and scored on Gonzalez’s double.
Teheran gave up five hits, two runs and three walks in seven innings. He struck out three.
New York moved Vargas up in the rotation after Noah Syndergaard went on the disabled list with a strained ligament in his right index finger. Vargas had given up 34 hits, including six homers, with 10 walks in 20 1/3 innings in his first season with the Mets.
But he kept Atlanta off-balance, allowing just a first-inning single to Freddie Freeman and a second-inning double to Charlie Culberson.
Tim Peterson, making his major league debut, retired the first four batters he faced before Johan Camargo hit his fourth homer in the seventh to cut the lead to 2-1.
DROP IN THE STANDINGS
The Braves had been in first place since May 2, but never by more than 1½ games.
After the first three games had over four combined hours of delays caused by rain or the threat of a storm, Wednesday’s games breezed through in 2 hours, 42 minutes. The temperature stayed in the high 70s on a clear night.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz is listed day to day, and the team hopes he won’t miss a turn in the rotation with a mild strain in his middle left finger. Manager Mickey Callaway said Matz isn’t expected to go on the disabled list.
Braves: RHP Mike Soroka, on the disabled list the past two weeks with a right shoulder strain, will make his first rehab appearance Friday at Class A Rome.
Mets: RHP Seth Lugo (1-1, 2.48 ERA) will make his first start of the season as the Mets open a four-game home series against the Chicago Cubs. In 26 starts, he’s 12-6 with a 4.09 ERA. He’s 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in one start and two relief appearances when facing the Cubs.
Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (5-1, 2.75 ERA) is coming off no-decision last Saturday at Boston in which he lasted just three innings and gave up six hits and three runs. Before that, Newcomb had won four starts this month and allowed just one run and nine hits in 25 innings. Newcomb is 0-2 with a 9.72 ERA in two career starts against Washington.
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