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Atlanta (64-57) «002100000391
N.Y. Mets (56-65)001000010290

Kawakami outduels Santana; Braves take series from Mets

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Kenshin Kawakami is getting used to taking on the best pitcher opposing teams can offer. Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, Johan Santana -- stack 'em up for a 34-year-old rookie who sure doesn't get intimidated very easily.

Kawakami outpitched Santana over seven stellar innings Thursday night, and Brian McCann hit a solo home run to help the Atlanta Braves claw further into playoff contention with a 3-2 victory against the scuffling New York Mets.

"He does it every time he faces a team's ace," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "No matter what, we have a chance to win when he toes the rubber."

Kawakami (6-9) earned a reputation for pitching in big spots while winning 112 games for Chunichi in Japan's Central League. He has been nearly as good since joining the Braves this season, allowing three runs or fewer in 17 of his past 19 starts.

The right-hander left the bases loaded in the first and allowed one run and seven hits, earning his first victory since July 8 -- even though he again got very little support.

"He's just been dynamite," McCann said. "It's been fun to watch him grow."

  Mets cut Livan to make room for Wagner; Sheffield might be moved

Omar Infante and former Mets outfielder Ryan Church also drove in runs for the Braves (64-57), who are four games out of the NL wild-card race. They've won nine of 12 entering a critical three-game series against fellow playoff contender Florida.

Peter Moylan gave up an RBI single to Omir Santos in the eighth that made it 3-2, before getting Anderson Hernandez to ground out and leave two runners aboard.

Rafael Soriano worked around a two-out single in the ninth for his 18th save.

"I'm aware [Santana] is one of the best pitchers over here," Kawakami said through a translator, "so I do look at it like a challenge."

The Mets' star left-hander breezed through two perfect innings to start the game before back-to-back doubles by Adam LaRoche and Infante helped Atlanta take a 2-0 lead. Santana (13-9) ended up allowing nine hits and three runs in seven erratic innings.

Dominant against just about everyone else, he's 1-5 in eight tries against Atlanta.

"Overall, I thought I had good stuff," Santana said. "I was just trying to do my job."

New York pulled to 2-1 on singles by Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy and Cory Sullivan in the third, but McCann quickly restored the lead with his home run in the fourth, a no-doubt drive that landed several rows deep into the porch that overhangs right field.

Santana has surrendered at least three runs in four of his past six starts, not that he has gotten much help from a patchwork offense. The Mets have failed to score more than two runs for him nine times this season, and he has never had more than two runs when he has faced the Braves.

"We play every single game to win," Santana said, "it doesn't matter who we play."

His ragged start capped another tough day in what has been a miserable season for New York.

Versatile infielder Alex Cora showed up at Citi Field with a cast on his right hand following thumb surgery, and revealed he'll need surgery on his left thumb, too. Then veteran outfielder Gary Sheffield yanked himself from the starting lineup after he was reportedly rebuffed by GM Omar Minaya when inquiring about a contract extension for next season.

Sheffield was on manager Jerry Manuel's original lineup card, and was replaced by Sullivan about three hours before the first pitch. The mercurial slugger struck out as a pinch hitter with a runner aboard in the eighth inning.

About the only bright spot for New York was former closer Billy Wagner, who made his first appearance since Aug. 2, 2008, and struck out two in a perfect eighth. After having Tommy John surgery on Sept. 10, Wagner made a quick recovery and touched 96 mph with his fastball.

"I thought he was very good, outstanding life, even in that short appearance," Manuel said. "He was excited about being out there, as excited as we were to have him. I would have to say that he's back, but we have to be careful."

While the Mets appear content on limping toward the finish, the Braves are mounting a sneak attack on Florida and the rest of the wild-card contenders.

Atlanta is 30-17 since falling a season-worst six games below .500 on June 27, and McCann's home run was the 46th by the Braves since the All-Star break, among the most prolific power numbers in the major leagues.

"We're swinging the bats well," Cox said. "You got to win series and keep going. Hopefully the teams in front of us lose one of these days."

Notes

  • Braves LF Garret Anderson left the game in the second inning with a lower back strain. He was day to day.
  • The Mets released RHP Livan Hernandez to make room for Wagner.
 
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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Kenshin Kawakami escapes a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and sails from there.  (Getty Images)
Kenshin Kawakami escapes a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and sails from there. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

R. Church
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
New York

L. Castillo
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Atlanta Braves
Omar Infante, 2B3011001 .333
Garret Anderson, LF1000010 .284
    Reid Gorecki, LF3010010 .400
Chipper Jones, 3B4000011 .287
Brian McCann, C4111010 .285
Yunel Escobar, SS3010100 .302
Matt Diaz, RF4010002 .297
Adam LaRoche, 1B3120101 .270
Ryan Church, CF4121002 .278
Kenshin Kawakami, P1000001 .114
    Mike Gonzalez, P0000000 .000
    Peter Moylan, P0000000 .000
    Rafael Soriano, P0000000 .000
Totals3039324  
Batting
2B - Adam LaRoche (29, Santana), Ryan Church (25, Santana)
HR - Brian McCann (15, Santana)
SF - Omar Infante (3)
SH - Kenshin Kawakami 2 (5)
RBI - Omar Infante (16), Brian McCann (62), Ryan Church (38)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Infante-Escobar-LaRoche
E - Chipper Jones (15, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
Kenshin Kawakami (W,6-9) 7711250 3.97
Mike Gonzalez (H,12) 0.2010110 2.54
Peter Moylan (H,19) 0.1100000 3.25
Rafael Soriano (S,18) 1100000 2.45
Pitches-Strikes - Kenshin Kawakami 98-74, Mike Gonzalez 24-14, Peter Moylan 5-2, Rafael Soriano 10-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kenshin Kawakami 5-10, Mike Gonzalez 1-1, Peter Moylan 1-0
Batters Faced - Kenshin Kawakami 29, Mike Gonzalez 4, Peter Moylan 2, Rafael Soriano 4
New York Mets
Angel Pagan, CF5010011 .281
Luis Castillo, 2B4120111 .312
Daniel Murphy, 1B5010012 .253
Jeff Francoeur, RF4110012 .265
Cory Sullivan, LF2011100 .281
   a- Gary Sheffield, PH1000011 .285
    Francisco Rodriguez, P0000000 .000
Fernando Tatis, 3B3010105 .249
Brian Schneider, C3000001 .182
   b- Omir Santos, PH-C1011000 .265
Anderson Hernandez, SS4000003 .247
Johan Santana, P2010010 .167
   c- Jeremy Reed, PH1000000 .254
    Billy Wagner, P0000000 .000
    Wilson Valdez, LF1000000 .241
Totals3629236  
a-struck out for Sullivan in the 8th
b-singled for Schneider in the 8th
c-flied out for Santana in the 7th
Batting
2B - Jeff Francoeur (19, Kawakami), Fernando Tatis (14, Kawakami), Johan Santana (3, Kawakami)
RBI - Cory Sullivan (7), Omir Santos (30)
2-OUT RBI - Cory Sullivan (3), Omir Santos (14)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - A. Hernandez-Castillo-Murphy, A. Hernandez-Castillo-Murphy, Castillo-A. Hernandez-Murphy
New York Mets
Johan Santana (L,13-9) 7933021 3.13
Billy Wagner 1000020 0.00
Francisco Rodriguez 1000200 3.21
Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 77-60, Billy Wagner 14-9, Francisco Rodriguez 14-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johan Santana 9-8, Francisco Rodriguez 2-0
Batters Faced - Johan Santana 28, Billy Wagner 3, Francisco Rodriguez 4
Game Information
Attendance - 39105
Game Time - 2:41
Temperature - 84
Umpires - Home - Paul Nauert, First Base - Paul Schrieber, Second Base - Joe West, Third Base - Tom Hallion