NEW YORK (AP) — Jair Jurrjens met his match.
Sailing along through a terrific season, the Atlanta right-hander was outpitched by unbeaten rookie Dillon Gee on Saturday night as the Braves lost 5-0 to the New York Mets.
“It was a good pitching duel,” Jurrjens said.
Pinch-hitter Jason Pridie snapped a scoreless tie with an RBI single off Jurrjens in the seventh and the Mets took advantage of an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez to score five times in the inning. Jose Reyes broke it open with a bases-loaded triple off Scott Proctor.
New York’s struggling bullpen finally preserved a lead, too, with Pedro Beato and Tim Byrdak combining for two perfect innings to close it out.
The Mets set an unwanted major league record Friday night: Their last six home losses have all come in games in which they led in the seventh inning. The bullpen had a 10.57 ERA over the previous 12 games.
Gee (6-0) won his fourth straight start, needing only 85 pitches to get through seven innings before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. Showing smarts and poise again, he allowed four hits and walked two while finishing with a pair of strikeouts.
“He was definitely on top of his game. He was basically doing anything he wanted,” Braves slugger Chipper Jones said. “Fastball in and out. Changeup, bottom dropping out of the changeup. Cutter, which is something we were seeing for the first time. Just really, really kept us off balance.”
Indeed, Gee said he fiddled with a cutter while warming up in the bullpen and used it in a game for the first time. He threw five of them and got three outs with that pitch.
Gee became the first rookie in club history to win his first six decisions in a season as a starter. Jon Matlack, the 1972 NL Rookie of the Year, opened 6-0 with one win out of the bullpen.
The right-hander had to be sharp in his matchup with Jurrjens, the National League pitcher of the month for May. The two of them came in with the top winning percentages in the league.
New York has won all eight of Gee’s starts this season, making him the only pitcher who has made at least five starts without his team losing any of them.
“He’s good. He’s moving the ball in and out, up. He changed speeds,” Jurrjens said. “Everybody’s really about throwing hard these days, but what Gee did today, that’s pitching.”
Jurrjens (7-2) was cruising as well until his defense let him down in the seventh.
With one out, slumping Jason Bay hit a grounder to Gonzalez and the normally sure-handed shortstop fumbled it as he tried to make the transfer from his glove to his throwing hand.
It was Gonzalez’s fourth error of the season.
“We blinked today. You can’t get mad at Gonzo because he’s saved our butts for a lot of games,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Josh Thole followed with a double to right and Jurrjens grazed Ruben Tejada’s uniform top with a pitch, loading the bases. Pridie punched a broken-bat single to right to put New York ahead 1-0.
“Even the bloop single I want to have back. Just two changeups I left up just enough for them to hook and get it up in the air,” Jurrjens said. “It’s tough. That’s baseball. You lose on two pitches or one pitch. You just bounce back and get ready for the next one.”
Proctor came on and Reyes ripped an 0-1 pitch into the right-field corner for his major league-leading 10th triple, prompting Citi Field fans to chant his name.
Justin Turner added a sacrifice fly, making it 5-0.
One night earlier, Reyes made a crucial error that allowed Atlanta to tie the game in the eighth inning of a 6-3 victory.
The Braves dropped to 13-7 at Citi Field and failed again in their third attempt to move a season-high seven games over .500.
New York improved to 4-5 on its 10-game homestand.
Jurrjens allowed four runs — three earned — and six hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out six and walked none. His major league-best ERA rose from 1.51 to 1.75.
“He was pitching really well and I just wanted to keep us right there,” Gee said.
In his first nine starts this season, Jurrjens had gone at least six innings and not allowed more than two earned runs. The Braves said the only other pitchers in major league history to do that were Ubaldo Jimenez, who went 12 games last year, Randy Johnson (2000) and Lefty Gomez (1937), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
NOTES: Fredi Gonzalez said Jones will be rested Sunday night and LF Martin Prado will move to 3B. … Joe Mather made his first start in CF for Atlanta. … Jordan Schafer is day to day with a small sinus fracture after fouling a bunt off his face Friday. The Braves said there is no serious damage to his nose or eyes and he will not need to go on the disabled list.