ATLANTA (AP) — The New York Mets are trying to send an early message in the NL East: This isn’t the same team that finished last a year ago.
The Braves are certainly taking note.
Ike Davis hit a tiebreaking three-run homer and Dillon Gee pitched four-hit ball over seven innings, leading the Mets to another victory over Atlanta, 6-1 Monday night.
New York snapped the Braves’ five-game winning streak and kept up their early dominance in the NL East rivalry, winning again after a three-game sweep of Atlanta in the Big Apple to start the season.
”I don’t think this is just a nice little start for that team,” Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. ”They’re a good, solid ballclub. All the attention was on the Phillies and us and Miami and Washington. But I’ve been telling people not to count out this Mets team.”
With the game tied at 1 in the sixth, Atlanta intentionally walked hot-hitting David Wright with two outs to get to Davis – a move that certainly made sense, given the first baseman was batting just .118. The strategy backfired when Davis drove a 2-2 curve from Tommy Hanson (1-2) it into the right-field seats.
”He’s thrown (the curve) every at-bat, every pitch, every time I’ve faced him,” Davis said. ”Obviously, they think I’m a fastball hitter.”
Hanson said the breaking ball was right where he wanted it to be.
”Sometimes,” the pitcher said, ”you’ve got to tip your hat to the other guy.”
Give a tip of the hat to Gee, too.
Atlanta put together a couple of hits and a walk in the second, leading to its only run on Jack Wilson’s RBI groundout. Otherwise, Gee (1-1) was never in much trouble.
”I was trying to catch them looking with fastballs,” he said. ”I’m happy with where I’m at. I feel like all my pitches are where they should be. ”
Wilson nearly homered in the fifth, but left fielder Jason Bay leaped against the wall to make a brilliant catch above the yellow line. Bay tumbled back onto the warning track and held the ball up for the umpire to make the out call.
”Robbing homers isn’t a huge part of my game,” said Bay, who made a similar catch on Alex Gonzalez last year at Turner Field. ”Same spot. Same ball. It was like deja vu. You can feel it in your glove. It’s almost like tunnel vision.”
Wilson pulled up near second base, smiling incredulously at what he had just seen from his former Pittsburgh teammate.
”I’ll text him later,” Wilson said. ”It won’t be pleasant.”
That was a familiar look for the Braves on this night, rekindling memories of their opening series in New York. Atlanta wound up losing its first four games, the team’s worst start since 1988, but rebounded with the five straight victories to climb above .500.
Then New York came to Turner Field. In the early going, at least, the Mets clearly have the Braves’ number.
”We’ve got to make some adjustments against them,” Uggla said. ”They’ve really put it to us these last four games.”
Atlanta’s only other serious threat against Gee came in the sixth. Uggla led off with a single, and an apparent double play grounder by Jason Heyward was waved off because the hitter’s bat nicked the glove of catcher Josh Thole.
Atlanta couldn’t take advantage of the error as Gee fought back from a 3-1 hole to strike out Eric Hinske, got Wilson on a slow roller that moved the runners to second and third, then fanned pinch-hitter Juan Francisco to end the threat.
Hanson went seven innings, allowing just five hits. But his throwing error on an attempted pickoff at first base led to an unearned run in the third, erasing Atlanta’s early 1-0 lead. Then, in the seventh, Hanson skipped a pitch in the dirt for a wild pitch, allowing Thole to race home from third with an insurance run.
Bay capped the scoring with a leadoff homer off Livan Hernandez in the ninth.
NOTES: Wright, who went 1 for 3 with a walk, became the first player in Mets history to reach base at least twice in his first seven games of the season. … Atlanta’s starters have lasted at least seven innings in three straight games. … Wilson was denied his first homer since 2009 by Bay’s stellar grab. … Michael Bourn picked up a stolen base the easy way in the eighth. With the speedster at second base, New York shifted its defense to put three infielders on the right side of the bag for left-handed hitter Brian McCann. Bourn noticed no one near third base, so he just sprinted over with Jon Rauch standing on the mound with the ball. … The Braves announced Monday that John Smoltz’s number (29) will be retired during a June ceremony. He’ll also be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame. Smoltz retired as the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)