NEW YORK (AP) — Chipper Jones hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning and the Atlanta Braves beat the Mets 6-5 Sunday in a wild game that included injuries to New York’s top two hitters, Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy.
Jason Heyward, Alex Gonzalez and Jose Constanza homered early for the Braves, who finally solved rookie Dillon Gee and handed the Mets their sixth loss in seven games. Dan Uggla extended his hitting streak to a career-best 28 games.
It was the first major league homer for Constanza — he also got his first stolen base, spiking Murphy in the process.
Reyes, the National League batting leader, was lifted in the second because of stiffness in his left hamstring, the same spot that landed him on the disabled list last month.
It was unclear how he got hurt — possibly while running out a grounder in the first. He was scheduled for an MRI exam.
Jason Bay had three hits and a stolen base during a perfect day at the plate. He singled leading off the ninth but was erased when he ran into a tag on Angel Pagan’s double-play grounder.
After a walk to pinch-hitter Jason Pridie, closer Craig Kimbrel retired Nick Evans on a grounder for his 34th save in 39 chances. A fired-up Jones, a Mets nemesis throughout his career, pumped his fist after making the throw for the final out.
A steamy day at Citi Field turned into a painful one for the Mets when Reyes and Murphy, both batting over .300, went down. New York made three errors and lost two of three in the series against the NL wild card leaders.
With the score tied at 5, Gonzalez opened the ninth with a single off Bobby Parnell (3-4). Gonzalez advanced on Constanza’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Jones’ single through the right side.
Jonny Venters (6-1) worked a hitless inning for the win.
Freddie Freeman went 0 for 4 for Atlanta, ending his 20-game hitting streak.
Braves lefty Mike Minor was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett for the fourth time this season to start in place of injured All-Star Jair Jurrjens, who went on the 15-day disabled list Saturday because of a strained right knee.
Minor left with a 5-2 lead and two outs in the sixth, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it.
First, Constanza’s error in left field led to a pair of runs. Murphy entered as a pinch-hitter and drove in a run with an infield single off Eric O’Flaherty, a dribbler up the third-base line. Willie Harris cut it to 5-4 with an RBI single.
In the seventh, Bay singled with two outs and stole second uncontested. He scored the tying run when left fielder Martin Prado missed an attempt at a sliding catch, misplaying Pagan’s sinking liner into an RBI double.
Prado moved from third base to left field when Jones came off the bench in a sixth-inning double switch.
After his RBI single, Murphy stayed in the game at second base — but he didn’t last long.
Constanza’s foot popped up off the bag when he slid hard into second and came down on Murphy’s prone left leg, between his ankle and knee. The lower portion of Murphy’s leg was driven awkwardly toward the ground, and he hobbled away immediately in pain.
Murphy stayed down in the outfield for a while before he was helped off the field. Constanza also was shaken up on the play, but remained in the game.
The injuries forced Mets manager Terry Collins to get creative with his defensive alignments.
In the seventh, he moved outfielder Scott Hairston to second base. By the eighth, Hairston was back in right field and star third baseman David Wright was playing shortstop for the first time in his major league career.
Constanza created the tying run with his legs in the fourth. He led off with an infield single and scored on Michael Bourn’s RBI groundout after a wild pitch. Minor also drew a walk from Gee during the inning.
NOTES: Minor was drafted No. 7 overall by Atlanta in 2009, one spot after Georgia high school right-hander Zack Wheeler went to San Francisco. The Mets acquired Wheeler last month in a trade for Carlos Beltran. … Uggla extended his hitting streak with a two-out single in the eighth. … Jones popped out with Constanza on second to end the seventh. … Collins stacked his lineup with all right-handed hitters against Minor. … Gee entered 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA in four outings against Atlanta, including two wins and a 0.54 ERA in three starts this year. He was originally slated to start Wednesday night against Florida, but that game was rained out.
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.)