METS 7, BRAVES 4
By MIKE FITZPATRICK
NEW YORK — Now that Tim Hudson is out for the season, the Atlanta Braves know they’ll need to rely on some pretty young pitchers in the starting rotation.
Alex Wood gave them all he had Thursday, but that wasn’t enough against the New York Mets.
John Buck drove in three runs and Zack Wheeler beat the first-place Braves for the second time in seven major league starts, sending New York to a 7-4 victory.
Wood, facing Wheeler for the second time in two career starts, was recalled from the minors to pitch in place of Paul Maholm (bruised left wrist). With a funky delivery, the 22-year-old lefty threw 90 pitches in 4⅓ innings. He yielded four runs and eight hits.
“I thought for his second major league start he did OK. It was a good experience for him. Five days from now, he’ll get another opportunity to improve,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, ejected in the sixth.
“He was in Double-A two months ago. Those hitters swing at some of those outside pitches and strike out. Here, they have the patience to take them.”
One day after Hudson broke his right ankle when Eric Young Jr. accidentally stepped on him, the NL East leaders caught another tough break. This time, it was a missed call by the umpires that helped the Mets score three times in the sixth and led to Gonzalez’s ejection.
Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman homered off Wheeler (4-1) to erase a three-run deficit, but New York’s prized rookie allowed only four hits in six innings after throwing 31 pitches in the first. He tossed six shutout innings in Atlanta to win his big league debut June 18.
“You can tell he’s still maturing and growing. You can see his stuff is there,” Braves catcher Gerald Laird said.
Freeman’s long homer to center leading off the sixth tied it at 4, but Wheeler ended the inning with a double-play grounder and New York went right back ahead in the bottom half.
Andrew Brown opened with a double against reliever Kameron Loe (0-1) and went to third on a wild pitch. Daniel Murphy singled through a drawn-in infield to give the Mets the lead.
David Wright followed with a drive to left-center that bounced up and hit the protective railing above the wall before caroming back onto the field. Center fielder Reed Johnson raised his arms, looking for the ground-rule double signal, but third base umpire Chad Fairchild ruled the ball in play.
Murphy scored and Wright pulled into third with an RBI triple before Gonzalez came out to argue. He took his protest to plate umpire and crew chief Jeff Kellogg before Fairchild finally tossed him.
Gonzalez headed toward the dugout but then went back at Fairchild, now standing behind third base again.
“I don’t think I needed a replay to know I was right,” Gonzalez said. “I thought Uggla’s home run was a tougher call to make, to be honest with you.”
Kellogg declined to comment after the game, saying the umps had to catch a flight.
Buck added a run-scoring double with two outs to make it 7-4.
Young beat out an infield single to start a four-run third and scored on Marlon Byrd’s single. Buck hit a two-run single to put the Mets up 4-1.
“There was one or two pitches I wish I had back. That two-out single to Buck was one,” Wood said. “I thought I competed well. Hopefully I’ll build off this for my next start.”
Murphy and Byrd had three hits apiece to help the Mets gain a four-game series split. But the news wasn’t all good: Young, a spark in the leadoff spot since arriving last month, was pulled with pain in his right knee.
David Aardsma and LaTroy Hawkins each worked a hitless inning before Bobby Parnell closed for his 20th save in 24 tries.
Young was very upset Wednesday night after breaking Hudson’s right ankle when he inadvertently stepped on the pitcher at first base. Hudson, the leader of Atlanta’s strong pitching staff, will have season-ending surgery once the swelling subsides.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Young “tweaked” his leg on the play, and one day later the speedy outfielder was removed in the fourth inning.
Uggla trimmed it to 4-3 with a two-run shot in the fourth. It was his second homer in two days and 11th at Citi Field, the most by a visiting player.
Wheeler threw a fastball over Uggla’s head in the first, and the Atlanta second baseman glared out at the mound before saying something to Buck.
“I told him, ‘Look, you can be mad at him because he doesn’t know where it’s going, but trust me, it’s not intentional,”’ Buck said. “He said, ‘OK, thank you.”’
While giving an intentional walk in the fifth, Loe threw a pitch low and wide that went all the way to the backstop. Byrd didn’t have much of a lead off third base, though, and reacted slowly before holding up.
NOTES: Atlanta OF Jason Heyward and C Brian McCann were rested. Heyward flied out as a pinch-hitter for the final out. ... Justin Upton went 0 for 4 and has one hit in his last 22 at-bats. ... LHP Mike Minor (9-5, 2.98 ERA) starts against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright (13-5, 2.44) when the Braves begin a seven-game homestand Friday night. ... Gonzalez said CF B.J. Upton, on the disabled list with a strained muscle on his right side, felt good after taking batting practice on the field Wednesday.