ATLANTA -- Jason Vargas was not originally scheduled to get the start on Wednesday night against the Braves at SunTrust Park. But in the finale of the four-game series, a 4-1 Mets win, Vargas recorded a start that Thor himself would have envied.
Ace Noah Syndergaard was supposed to take on Julio Teheran and the Braves but was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday after an MRI revealed a strained ligament in his right index finger.
The job then went to Vargas, who moved up a day to pitch in Atlanta.
The last time Vargas faced the Braves, on May 3, he gave up six runs on 11 hits through 4 2/3 innings in an 11-0 loss. Wednesday night's bout with the Braves was much improved, as he kept the Atlanta offense off the board through five innings, giving up nine fewer hits than he did a few weeks ago.
"He's a pitcher we're not accustomed to seeing, just the style he throws," Braves third baseman Johan Camargo said after the game. "He's not killing you with [velocity]."
Despite a short rest -- only three days after his most recent outing to Wednesday night -- Vargas commanded his pitches and kept the Braves' high-powered offense off balance. It was the second time in three starts that Vargas kept an opponent scoreless through five innings, having blanked Miami on May 21.
"[Vargas] was making his pitches," manager Mickey Callaway said. "He was executing. His command was there. He didn't give in. ... When he needed to make a big pitch, he made the big pitch."
Callaway and Vargas attributed a lot of Wednesday night's success to Vargas' ability to force the Braves into soft-contact ground balls or shallow fly balls.
When the fifth inning rolled around, both Vargas and Callaway knew it was time to dip into the bullpen for Tim Peterson to make his Major League debut.
"He was done [after the fifth]," Callaway said of Vargas. "He had a tough schedule in between, coming back on three days' rest. He threw a bullpen at ... two o'clock in the morning or something in Game 2 of the doubleheader. We talked to him, kind of gave him the option, and he was just tired. It didn't make sense for us to bring him back out."
It wasn't until Peterson was two innings into his Major League debut, after being called up from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the day, that the Braves got on the board with a solo home run from Camargo in the bottom of the seventh. But the Mets picked up an insurance run in the eighth when Adrian Gonzalez notched his second RBI of the night with a bases-loaded single to right.
Brandon Nimmo added his second RBI of the night with a line drive off the right-field wall that scored Amed Rosario from second after the shortstop doubled down the left-field line with one out in the ninth inning.
"To be able to come away with that series split after a kind of some tough losses for us -- not just on the field but off the field with injuries as well -- that was a really big win for us," Nimmo said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the eighth, Braves cleanup hitter Nick Markakis hit a hard ground ball back up the middle. But Rosario laid out for the hard-hit ground ball and flipped the ball up to Asdrubal Cabrera, who fired to first to turn the double play and get the Mets out of the jam without a run crossing the plate.
"It's the play that we've been lacking," Callaway said. "We had a similar play the other day and we didn't get the turn. That was probably the difference in the game."
At the start of the fourth inning, Teheran had a 22-inning scoreless streak going against the Mets, but an RBI double down the right-field line from Gonzalez ended it. Teheran had accumulated 17 scoreless innings over his three starts against the Mets in 2018.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Rosario keeps showing Mets fans just how fast he is, and he did it again on Wednesday with a two-out triple to left-center in the seventh. A quick start out of the box catapulted him all the way around to third. The cutoff throw from Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson was offline and gave Rosario an easy slide in for his second triple of the season. He would later score on Nimmo's single to put the Mets up, 2-0.
HE SAID IT
"It's kind of scary out there when the Braves come up in the bottom of the ninth and we're only up by two runs or so, especially on this road trip. We've had some tough ones, some tough losses. So to be able to get that last run was really big. I was glad to be able to help out there." -- Nimmo
The Mets will head back to Citi Field for the start of a four-game set with the Cubs that begins on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Right-hander Seth Lugo will make his first start of the season. Lugo has spent the majority of 2018 as a reliever, but the recent move of Syndergaard to the 10-day disabled list opened a starting spot. The Cubs will counter with lefty Jose Quintana, who has a 1.93 ERA in two career starts against the Mets.