Heady Braves get past Mets late, stay unbeaten
ATLANTA -- Phil Gosselin's two-run single off Rafael Montero with two outs in the eighth inning gave the Braves a lead they preserved to remain perfect with a 5-3 win in Friday night's home opener against the Mets.
The Braves, who are 4-0 for the first time since 1994, grabbed an early lead with a two-run first inning that was highlighted by Cameron Maybin's second career leadoff homer. An unearned run in the third inning accounted for the only other damage incurred by Mets starter Jon Niese during his five-inning stint.
Atlanta's starting pitcher, Eric Stults, proved perfect through the first three innings, but he faltered when he went to the stretch during a game-tying three-run fourth inning that featured David Wright and John Mayberry Jr. hitting back-to-back homers on consecutive pitches. Stults' exit after five innings set the stage for another strong performance by the Braves' bullpen, culminated by Jason Grilli notching his third save with a scoreless ninth.
"Everybody is coming into their own," Grilli said. "Everybody is accountable for what they are doing. Confidence is high and everybody has got some good defined roles. We're seizing the opportunity."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Wilmer's flubs: Flores lasted half a week before his defense became a topic of conversation. After committing his first error of the season in Thursday's series finale against the Nationals, the Mets shortstop racked up two more Friday -- each of them costing his team unearned runs. In the first inning, Flores threw well off target on a ground ball by Nick Markakis, who came around to score on Jonny Gomes' groundout. Two innings later, Flores bobbled a Christian Bethancourt grounder, allowing Gomes to score from third. More >
Maybin's strong introduction: Maybin, who grew up a Braves fan in North Carolina, stirred the raucous crowd when he homered in his first home at-bat with the Braves. His leadoff homer jumpstarted the two-run first and provided further reason for manager Fredi Gonzalez to stick to his plan to platoon Maybin in both the center field and leadoff hitter roles.
Power surge: Coming into the day as one of five big league teams without a home run, the Mets hit two on consecutive pitches in the fourth inning. Wright began the party with a two-run shot over the center-field wall, the first hit that Stults allowed. One pitch later, Mayberry tied the game with a home run to left.
Both contributed: Gonzalez was questioned when he started Gosselin at second base instead of Jace Peterson. But in the end, both made significant contributions. After Chris Johnson sparked the eighth-inning rally with a double, Peterson, pinch-running, showed his athleticism by jumping to the side to avoid third baseman David Wright's tag. This helped extend the inning long enough to provide a chance to Gosselin, who was the only position player who hadn't started any of the three previous games. More >
"I think we believe in what we have here, even when everybody else might not. We're athletic and have great team chemistry and a good group of guys. We believe in each other." -- Maybin
"That stinkin' first baseman's dangerous. We haven't gotten him out in four years." -- Mets manager Terry Collins on Freddie Freeman, who singled to extend the Braves' run-scoring rally in the first
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mets Rule 5 Draft pick Sean Gilmartin, a former first-round Draft pick of the Braves, made his big league debut against his old organization in the seventh inning. A changeup artist with reverse platoon splits, Gilmartin induced a groundout from Nick Markakis, then struck out Freeman to emerge unscathed.
WELCOME CONTRIBUTIONS When Craig Kimbrel was traded on Sunday, there was further reason to be concerned about the depth of a Braves bullpen, which has not allowed a run in 15 innings. Cody Martin has opened his career with three scoreless frames, and Brandon Cunniff, who recorded two more big outs on Friday, has held opponents scoreless through his first 3 1/3 innings.
Mets: The subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason and Spring Training, Dillon Gee will make his season debut in a 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Braves at Turner Field. The Mets originally planned to put Gee in the bullpen before Zack Wheeler's season-ending elbow injury created a rotation vacancy.
Braves: Riding the momentum of his strong Opening Day performance, Julio Teheran will make his first home start during Saturday night's game against the Mets. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in five of his seven career starts against New York.
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