Heyward saves Braves win with diving catch
BRAVES 2, METS 1
By HOWIE RUMBERG
NEW YORK — Jason Heyward made a diving catch with runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth inning after pinch-hitter Reed Johnson hit a go-ahead single with two outs in a two-run top half, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 2-1, comeback victory over the New York Mets.
Playing for the first time after missing six games with a strained right hamstring, Heyward made a long run to his right and slid along the wet grass to hold his glove up after grabbing Justin Turner’s fly ball.
The Braves took advantage of catcher John Buck’s passed ball to score twice in the ninth against closer Bobby Parnell.
The Braves did not get their first hit off Dillon Gee until Freddie Freeman led off the seventh with a single. But the NL East leaders ended their two-game skid against Parnell (5-5).
With shortstop Omar Quintanilla playing behind second base in a shift, Brian McCann singled through the opening at short to open the ninth. Evan Gattis followed with a bloop single to right-center. David Wright then fielded Dan Uggla’s grounder and stepped on third before leaping over a sliding pinch-runner Jose Constanza. Buck’s passed ball on a high fastball put runners in scoring position before Chris Johnson’s grounder tied it.
Batting for reliever Jordan Walden, Reed Johnson then lined a single to center for the lead.
Craig Kimbrel hit Buck with a pitch with one out in the rainy ninth, drawing the Mets fans ire as he tried to get comfortable in the steady downpour by walking off the mound after nearly every pitch. Pinch-runner Andrew Brown advanced to second on a wild pitch and Quintanilla drew a 10-pitch walk.
Turner hit liner to the spacious gap in left-center at Citi Field, but Heyward, who was playing in center field because B.J. Upton is on the disabled list, made a flat out dive to preserve the Braves’ first win in three games. Kimbrel earned his 28th save.
Walden (4-1) pitched the eighth for the win.
Julio Teheran kept pace with Gee, allowing just Ike Davis’ RBI single in the fourth inning.
Teheran put runners on base in each of the first four innings, but picked off leadoff man Eric Young Jr. after walking him in the first. Teheran couldn’t overcome Marlon Byrd’s leadoff triple in the fourth, though.
Byrd hit a sinking line drive to right field that went under the glove of a charging Justin Upton and rolled to the wall. Byrd raced around second and the fans’ cheers began to swell but turned to a collective “aww” when he was held at third rather than try for an inside-the-park homer.
Davis followed with a sharp grounder under diving first baseman Freeman for the 1-0 lead. It was Davis’ first RBI since he drove in two runs July 5, his first game back from the minors.
The popular first baseman got his first extra-base hit in 54 plate appearances in the second inning, when he doubled just inside the left field line. Davis homered on June 2 before the drought started.
The Braves wasted a big chance in the seventh when Freeman led off with their first hit. Atlanta then loaded the bases with one out on a single by Gattis and Uggla was hit by a pitch.
Gee threw his gutsiest pitches of the night with the bases jammed. First Chris Johnson grounded to third baseman Wright, who rushed the slow bouncer and threw home for a fielder’s choice. Then Gee tossed two pitches in the dirt that pinch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich chased for an inning-ending strikeout. Mets fans gave Gee a loud cheer as he walked off the field.
Gee was lifted after 96 pitches and seven innings, allowing two hits and three walks. He has tossed 13 2-3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
NOTES: Mets rookie center fielder Juan Lagares was named NL player of the week. He went 7 for 10 with two doubles, one homer and five RBIs over his last three games. ... The Braves are putting LHP Paul Maholm (wrist strain) on the 15-day DL. Rookie Alex Wood will make his second big league start in his place. Atlanta CF B.J. Upton (leg muscle strain) ran for the first time since going on the DL July 14, retroactive to the 13th. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Upton likely will not be ready to be activated when eligible this weekend.