NEW YORK (AP) — With a little more help from his defense, David Hale could have dominated. Instead, the Atlanta Braves fumbled away a chance for a road sweep against an NL East rival.
Slumping newcomer Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly in the 14th inning and the New York Mets outlasted Atlanta 4-3 on Sunday to prevent a three-game whitewash.
“You play that long you want to win, obviously. So yeah, that’s rough, but it’s part of it,” left fielder Justin Upton said. “Something had to give and it gave their way. Nothing you can do about it.”
David Wright had four hits and New York took advantage of three early errors by Atlanta, which had won seven of eight.
“You want to go out and play good defense every day and when we don’t, obviously, we take that to heart,” said Upton, who botched a flyball in the first. “It’s tough to go out and be perfect every day.”
Hale wriggled out of bases-loaded jams in the second and sixth – both after errors by second baseman Dan Uggla. The rookie was making his second straight start against the Mets and pitching for the first time in 10 days because his scheduled outing Tuesday in Philadelphia was rained out.
Hale was long gone when Kirk Nieuwenhuis drew a leadoff walk from Gus Schlosser (0-1) and advanced on Ruben Tejada’s sacrifice bunt. Eric Young Jr. was intentionally walked to bring up Granderson, hitless in his last 16 at-bats and stuck in a 4-for-44 slide that’s dropped his average to .127.
“In that situation, that was the right thing to do,” Schlosser said.
The runners moved up on a wild pitch, and Granderson lifted the next delivery into medium left field. Nieuwenhuis slid home ahead of Upton’s throw.
“Terrible pitch. Elevated. That’s what he’s trying to do right there, and I let him do it,” Schlosser said. “It’s a hard pill to swallow.”
Granderson went 0 for 6 with an error and was booed all afternoon. But he turned those jeers to cheers at the end of a long day.
Mets starter Zack Wheeler tossed six innings against his hometown team before he was pulled for a pinch hitter in a game that lasted 4 hours, 37 minutes.
Jose Valverde (1-0) worked a scoreless inning, hours after he was demoted from his closer role in favor of Kyle Farnsworth.
As late-afternoon shadows crept toward the mound, neither team could muster much offense in extra innings. Both bullpens were spotless for seven innings heading to the 14th.
“It was tough to see the whole game. First with the sun, then it got really difficult from the ninth inning on,” New York catcher Anthony Recker said.
Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out five in three hitless innings for the Mets. Called up from the minors last week, Matsuzaka was pitching on consecutive days for the first time in the majors. He made his second career relief appearance in his season debut Saturday night.
Scott Rice kept it tied in the seventh by getting New York nemesis Freddie Freeman to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners.
Wheeler helped himself with an early RBI grounder and took a 2-0 lead into the fifth. Then he issued a leadoff walk, and the Braves surged ahead with consecutive one-out doubles by Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Freeman.
New York tied it on an RBI grounder by Lucas Duda in the sixth, a double-play ball that could have ended the inning if Uggla hadn’t botched it.
Young scored on Wright’s first-inning groundout after Justin Upton muffed his slicing fly for a two-base error.
NOTES: Schlosser pitched 3 2-3 innings and singled in his first major league at-bat, moments before the 14th-inning stretch. The souvenir was taken out of play. “I was just going to go until they told me to stop,” Schlosser said. … Heyward is 7 for 23 (.304) against the Mets this season and 5 for 47 (.106) against everyone else. … Jordan Schafer (finger) opened the seventh with a pinch-hit single. … RHP Julio Teheran (2-1, 1.93 ERA), coming off a three-hit shutout in Philadelphia, faces Miami RHP Tom Koehler (2-1, 1.89) in the opener of a three-game series Monday night.