It was a heroic effort, but four runs in the ninth just weren’t enough for the Braves to catch up to the New York Mets, losing 5-6. With two outs in the ninth, the Mets’ Frank Francisco walked two batters with the bases loaded, then gave up a two run double to Martin Prado which put the tying run on third and Prado, the go ahead run, on second.
If that wasn’t a bad enough spot, Jason Heyward swung and missed, what was called strike three. Unfortunately for the Mets, it also hit the dirt and rolled under catcher Rob Johnson. It looked it things might have been over, but Johnson kept a cool head and threw Heyward out at first, ending the game.
Mets’ starting pitcher Jason Niese allowed just six hits over eight innings, and handed his bullpen a five run lead. However, the slumping Mets still were able to almost blow it as rookie Josh Edgin and Francisco combined for four walks and hit a batter to give the Braves just a bit of an opening.
“We needed this. We have not played well,” Mets manager Terry Collins told ESPN. “I am not making any excuses. We have not played well on any side of the ball. So this win helped. I don’t care how it came about. I’m glad to get it.”
Edgin walked Chipper Jones on four straight pitches at the start of the ninth, then hit Freddie Freeman with an 0-1 pitch. Dan Uggla struck out, Brian McCann flied out, and Edgin started Paul Janish off with a called strike before throwing four straight balls and loading the bases. That’s when Francisco came in, pitching on consecutive nights for the first time since the end of May.
Francisco fell behind pinch-hitter Juan Francisco 3-0 and threw a called strike before five straight foul balls and then ball four, forcing in a run. He got behind Michael Bourn 2-0 and walked him on five pitches, forcing in another run. Then Prado hit a two-run double to right on an 0-2 pitch. Bourn was held at third as right fielder Mike Baxter made a clean pickup.
Jon Rauch then came in and got Heyward to swing at a slider in the dirt for strike three. Johnson blocked the ball, then carefully threw on the foul side of the line to first as Heyward came in, then was called out.
The Braves’ Ben Sheets had a rough outing has he gave up five runs – four of which were earned – and saw his record drop to 4-2 and his ERA rise from 1.41 to 2.13.
Atlanta’s record dropped to 66-48 and are 4.5 games behind the first place Washington Nationals