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Atlanta at New York

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Atlanta (67-83) «1010000057112
N.Y. Mets (83-65)1021000004130

Braves rally for five in ninth to turn away Mets

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- A dreadful bullpen is making it awfully difficult for the New York Mets to avoid another September meltdown.

It seems manager Jerry Manuel has tried nearly every reliever in multiple roles. So there's not much left for him to do besides hand someone the ball and cross his fingers.

Fill-in closer Luis Ayala gave up a go-ahead homer to pinch-hitter Greg Norton, and the Atlanta Braves rallied for five runs in the ninth inning Sunday and a 7-4 victory that trimmed New York's tenuous NL East lead to one game by Philadelphia, which swept a doubleheader from Milwaukee.

"These are tough losses, especially this time of the year," Manuel said. "We've been dealt many tough blows. We've got to see if we can make it back."

Wasting two homers by David Wright and a strong start from Oliver Perez, the Mets lost for the ninth time in 30 games.

The Mets squandered a seven-game cushion with 17 to play last year, letting Philadelphia charge past them for the division title in one of the worst collapses in baseball history.

Desperately trying to erase those painful memories, New York had 17 games remaining coming into this series and dropped two of three to the fourth-place Braves (67-83).

"Coming down the stretch at this point, every loss will probably be a reminder of what happened last year," Manuel said. "What we have to do as a team is get through it. We've got to finish."

That's been a problem all season.

The Mets have 27 blown saves -- they began the day tied for third-most in the majors. This was their 11th blown save in the ninth inning. New York entered Sunday tied for third-most in that category as well, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"We need to pick each other up. We all know they're trying to do their best," Carlos Beltran said. "Right now, things aren't working for them, but that doesn't mean they're not going to pitch better."

Missing injured closer Billy Wagner for the rest of the year, the bullpen failed to hold an eighth-inning lead for Johan Santana in the opener of Saturday's doubleheader and flopped again Sunday.

Despite the deflating loss, New York had some fun after the game with a familiar hazing ritual. Young players were dressed up as Olympic swimmers - fake medals, goggles, skintight swimsuits - as the team left town for its final road trip of the season.

"The next Michael Phelps," a smiling Pedro Martinez said, pointing at 6-foot-7 Mike Pelfrey. "Don't rip it. You're still going to have to wear it."

Ayala (2-9) began the ninth with a 4-2 lead but allowed consecutive singles to Casey Kotchman and pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson. Norton then drove a full-count delivery into the Mets' right-field bullpen -- appropriately -- for a 5-4 Atlanta edge.

It was Norton's third pinch-hit homer this season.

"I tried to throw my sinker down and away. The ball stayed in the middle," Ayala said.

After he was lifted, the Braves tacked on two more. Gregor Blanco hit an RBI double off Pedro Feliciano, and Corky Miller's sacrifice fly against Brian Stokes made it 7-4.

Jorge Julio (2-0) worked a scoreless eighth for the win.

The Mets tried to make a comeback of their own in the bottom of the ninth, putting their first two batters on. But Mike Gonzalez retired the next three for his 11th save in 12 chances.

"Our bullpen the entire series held for us. Both wins were because of the bullpen," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We're going to help the Mets as much as we can when we play the Phillies six times, so it's our job to be up for every game and go at it as hard as we can."

Atlanta slugger Chipper Jones had three hits, including an RBI double, in his final game at Shea Stadium, where he's had so much success that he named one of his sons Shea.

The All-Star third baseman, who missed Saturday's doubleheader with a stiff back, finished with a .313 batting average, 19 homers and 55 RBI in 88 games at the ballpark.

"It was fitting, with all the close games the two teams have played over the years," Jones said. "We're a prideful bunch over here. We've been sitting where they are sitting now many times. ... We're not going to roll over. If they're going to beat us, they're going to earn it."

Wright matched a career high with four hits. He had three RBI and hit both homers off starter Jorge Campillo.

New York has 14 games left. A four-game series beginning Monday night at Washington will be followed by three in Atlanta next weekend.

Notes

  • Wright's 12th career multihomer game and third this season gave him a career-high 31 home runs, surpassing last season's total by one. He also hit a two-run shot in the first inning Saturday night.
  • Braves SS Yunel Escobar (sore hamstring) grounded out as a pinch hitter in the seventh.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Chipper Jones and Mike Gonzalez enjoy dealing a blow to the Mets' NL East lead.  (AP)
Chipper Jones and Mike Gonzalez enjoy dealing a blow to the Mets' NL East lead. (AP)

Players of the Game
New York

D. Wright
AB 5
R 2
H 4
HR 2
RBI 3
Atlanta

C. Jones
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Atlanta Braves
Josh Anderson, CF5110030 .281
Martin Prado, 2B1210300 .330
    Mike Gonzalez, P0000000 .000
Chipper Jones, 3B5131001 .365
Brian McCann, C3010103 .298
    Gregor Blanco, PR-RF^LF1011000 .257
Omar Infante, LF-SS4011124 .302
Jeff Francoeur, RF4000016 .233
    Corky Miller, C0001000 .086
Casey Kotchman, 1B5110012 .272
Brent Lillibridge, SS3000010 .175
   a- Kelly Johnson, PH-2B1110000 .284
Jorge Campillo, P2000020 .190
    Jeff Bennett, P0000000 .222
    Will Ohman, P0000000 .000
   b- Yunel Escobar, PH1000000 .288
    Julian Tavarez, P0000000 .000
    Jorge Julio, P0000000 .000
   c- Greg Norton, PH1113000 .261
    Brandon Jones, RF0000000 .265
Totals367117510  
a-singled for Lillibridge in the 9th
b-grounded out for Ohman in the 7th
c-homered for Julio in the 9th
Batting
2B - Chipper Jones (23, Perez), Gregor Blanco (14, Feliciano)
HR - Greg Norton (7, Ayala)
SF - Corky Miller (1)
SH - Martin Prado (2)
RBI - Chipper Jones (72), Gregor Blanco (38), Omar Infante (37), Corky Miller (4), Greg Norton 3 (34)
2-OUT RBI - Omar Infante (10)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Lillibridge-Kotchman
E - Jorge Campillo (4, Missed catch of throw), Brent Lillibridge (3, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
Jorge Campillo 3.2843122 3.79
Jeff Bennett 1.1100020 4.01
Will Ohman 1000010 3.49
Julian Tavarez 1100120 4.89
Jorge Julio (W,2-0) 1100110 4.50
Mike Gonzalez (S,11) 1200010 3.99
IBB - Beltran by Julian Tavarez, Reyes by Jorge Julio
Pitches-Strikes - Jorge Campillo 87-54, Jeff Bennett 13-9, Will Ohman 15-9, Julian Tavarez 28-18, Jorge Julio 22-11, Mike Gonzalez 20-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jorge Campillo 7-2, Jeff Bennett 1-0, Julian Tavarez 2-0, Jorge Julio 1-1, Mike Gonzalez 1-1
Batters Faced - Jorge Campillo 20, Jeff Bennett 4, Will Ohman 3, Julian Tavarez 6, Jorge Julio 5, Mike Gonzalez 5
New York Mets
Jose Reyes, SS4010101 .299
Daniel Murphy, LF4110010 .360
    Endy Chavez, LF1000002 .271
David Wright, 3B5243011 .301
Carlos Delgado, 1B5030012 .267
Carlos Beltran, CF3000203 .283
Ryan Church, RF4010035 .293
   a- Fernando Tatis, PH1000012 .300
Luis Castillo, 2B5010013 .251
Brian Schneider, C4010010 .256
Oliver Perez, P2110000 .118
    Scott Schoeneweis, P0000000 .000
    Joe Smith, P0000000 .000
   b- Marlon Anderson, PH1000001 .215
    Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000
    Pedro Feliciano, P0000000 .000
    Brian Stokes, P0000000 .667
Totals39413339  
a-struck out for Church in the 9th
b-flied out for Smith in the 8th
Batting
2B - Carlos Delgado (28, Campillo)
HR - David Wright 2 (31, Campillo, Campillo)
SH - Oliver Perez (7)
RBI - David Wright 3 (114)
2-OUT RBI - David Wright (43)
SB - Jose Reyes (50, 2nd base off Julio/Miller), Luis Castillo (16, 2nd base off Julio/Miller)
Team LOB - 12
New York Mets
Oliver Perez 7422380 4.09
Scott Schoeneweis (H,14) 0.1200000 3.08
Joe Smith (H,17) 0.2000020 3.55
Luis Ayala (BS,6; L,2-9)0333001 5.48
Pedro Feliciano 0.1222200 4.09
Brian Stokes 0.2000000 3.08
IBB - Infante by Pedro Feliciano
Pitches-Strikes - Oliver Perez 111-69, Scott Schoeneweis 6-6, Joe Smith 9-7, Luis Ayala 11-7, Pedro Feliciano 19-8, Brian Stokes 7-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Oliver Perez 3-10, Pedro Feliciano 1-0
Batters Faced - Oliver Perez 28, Scott Schoeneweis 3, Joe Smith 2, Luis Ayala 3, Pedro Feliciano 5, Brian Stokes 2
Game Information
Attendance - 56041
Game Time - 3:29
Temperature - 86
Umpires - Home - Gary Cederstrom, First Base - Field Culbreth, Second Base - Jim Reynolds, Third Base - Tim Timmons