NEW YORK (AP) – Tim Hudson snapped a three-start losing streak and Nate McLouth homered and drove in two runs, giving the Atlanta Braves’ playoff push another boost with a 4-2 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday.
Holding a slim lead in the NL wild-card race, the Braves got a two-run double from Alex Gonzalez and won their second straight game at Citi Field after consecutive losses to last-place Washington. Atlanta began the day three games behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East.
Billy Wagner struck out all three batters in the ninth against his former team for his second save of the series and 35th in 42 chances this year. Atlanta will go for a three-game sweep Sunday with Derek Lowe on the mound against Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Hudson (16-8) allowed solo homers to Jose Reyes and Luis Hernandez, who connected one pitch after breaking a bone in his right foot on a foul ball. Hernandez limped around the bases in obvious pain, then was removed from the game.
McLouth hit a run-scoring double in the second off rookie Dillon Gee (1-1) and a solo shot in the ninth against Bobby Parnell.
Beaten by the Mets on Sept. 2 to begin his losing streak, Hudson went seven innings and yielded six hits. The sinkerballer struck out seven, walked one and induced a pair of double-play grounders, increasing his major league-leading total to 31.
Jonny Venters worked a scoreless eighth, also getting a double-play ball after Reyes’ leadoff single.
Gee gave New York another encouraging performance in his third major league start. He allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings after giving up one run over 13 innings in his first two outings against Washington and Pittsburgh, both last-place teams.
McLouth put Atlanta ahead in the second with an RBI double off the top of the right-field fence. Derrek Lee scored from first after reaching on a single that caromed off third base and high in the air.
Reyes hit his 11th homer leading off the third.
Brian McCann doubled to start the fourth and Lee’s single left runners at the corners. Gonzalez hit a one-out drive high off the wall in left, scoring both runners, and tried for third when the ball rolled away from rookie Lucas Duda. But Carlos Beltran came all the way over from center and threw out Gonzalez at third.
Hernandez fouled a ball hard off his right foot, just below his ankle guard, leading off the fifth. He yelped in anguish as he crumpled to the ground, and the game was held up for several minutes while he was tended to by a trainer.
But he stepped back up to the plate and sent the next pitch into the right-field stands for his second home run with the Mets.
That was the easy part.
After trying to run hard out of the box, Hernandez came up gimpy and took 34 seconds to hobble around the bases, according to the Fox television broadcast.
Joaquin Arias replaced Hernandez at second base in the sixth, and New York announced in the ninth that Hernandez broke a bone in his foot.
It was a microcosm of the past two seasons for the injury-riddled Mets — every bit of success has come with plenty of pain.
NOTES: Braves manager Bobby Cox put Rick Ankiel in center field as a defensive replacement in the seventh, shifting McLouth from center to left and removing Matt Diaz. McLouth immediately made a running catch of Josh Thole’s drive to start the inning. … Atlanta setup man Takashi Saito was unavailable because of a sore right shoulder and will miss the series finale, too. The 40-year-old right-hander will travel back to Atlanta on Sunday to undergo tests Monday.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)