The Mets beat the Braves to avoid last place

Rafael Ortega got two singles in a six-run fifth inning to lead the New York Mets to a 7-6 victory over the major league-best Atlanta Braves on Sunday night, avoiding the Mets from dropping to last place in the NL East.

The Mets remained a half-game ahead of the Washington Nationals despite being outscored 34-3 in the first three games of the series.

New York hasn’t fallen this low this late in a season since 2005. The Mets trailed the Braves by 22 1/2 games last season after ending with 101 victories and tied for first place in the division with Atlanta, who won the head-to-head tiebreaker.

“We know they’re firing on all cylinders and giving you their best shot to beat one of the best teams in baseball,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “So anytime you can beat them, it’s hard.”





Ortega led off the fifth inning with a single and later added a two-run single to cap a rally that included four singles, three walks — two with the bases loaded — and a run-scoring catcher’s interference call on the Braves’ Sean Murphy.

“You get people on base, and you always want to do more,” Showalter explained. “Everyone is chasing and swinging the bat and doing something.” I’m not saying it’s a stroll, but sometimes what you should be chasing is selectivity.”

Ortega finished the game with three hits, one less than his career high. Jeff McNeil had three hits, one of which scored a run in the third.

In six innings, Kodai Senga (9-6) surrendered three runs, all on Marcell Ozuna’s bases-clearing double, and struck out seven batters.

The 30-year-old rookie right-hander is tied for the team lead in wins with Max Scherzer, who was traded to the Texas Rangers on July 29. He also leads the Mets in innings pitched and strikeouts.

“I feel good, I feel strong on the mound,” Senga remarked through a translator. “I believe I can finish the season on a high note.” On-field and off-field care, I believe I’m doing everything possible to maintain my excellent performance on the field.”

Murphy homered to start the seventh, and Matt Olson brought the Braves within a run in the eighth with his major league-leading 43rd homer, a two-run blast. Atlanta has the most home runs in the majors, with 227.

“Even when we got down, I felt good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of his team’s 31 comeback victories this season. “But we can’t walk that many guys at once.” We gave ourselves a chance to win because the boys kept fighting.”

Drew Smith struck out Murphy for the last out of the eighth, and Adam Ottavino recorded his seventh save with a flawless ninth.

In 4 2/3 innings, Yonny Chirinos (5-5) allowed six runs.


The Mets made some outstanding fielding plays. In the fourth inning, shortstop Francisco Lindor raced deep into the hole to catch Ozuna’s grounder before throwing him out with a jump throw. In the sixth inning, Brandon Nimmo reached for the second time in two seasons to rob Austin Riley of extra bases. Pete Alonso then ended the inning by diving to catch Eddie Rosario’s grounder.


The Braves’ setback on Sunday was their third in the last 17 games against the Mets, a span in which Atlanta outscored New York 124-61. The Braves are 11 games ahead of the Phillies in the NL East.


The Mets’ victory assured that neither New York team would finish worst for the first time in a full season. In the AL East, the Yankees are 60-58, two games behind the fourth-place Red Sox.


2B for the Braves Ozzie Albies left the game in the eighth inning due to cramps. In the seventh inning, Murphy was struck by Vientos’ back swing. He saw a trainer for a few minutes before returning to the game, despite receiving a cut on his head from the Pitchcom gadget. … RHP Kyle Wright (shoulder inflammation), who won 21 games last season but has only made five starts this year, has began increasing his exercise at the club’s spring training facilities in Florida.

Showalter stated that RF Starling Marte (right groin strain) is “progressing, little by little.” Marte is eligible to return from the injured list on Wednesday, but he is unlikely to do so and may require a rehab stint.


Braves: LHP Max Fried (3-1, 2.50 ERA) takes the mound as the Braves return home from a season-high 11-game road trip to begin a three-game series against the Yankees. Fried will make his third start after being out with a forearm issue for over three months.

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-6, 6.42) starts a three-game series against Pittsburgh on Monday, continuing a 10-game homestand.