ATLANTA -- Michael Conforto provided the early spark and Seth Lugo showed no rust on the mound or at the plate as his successful season debut helped the Mets claim a four-game series victory with Sunday afternoon's 2-1 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park.
"I think that we needed these wins in our division so that it can put us up in the standings," Mets catcher Rene Rivera said. "At the same time we have to continue playing and winning series."
Conforto's leadoff double helped create a first-inning run for Lugo, who allowed one run and six hits over seven innings. The Mets right-hander missed this season's first two months because of right elbow inflammation. He aided his own cause with a third-inning double that put him in position to score on Juan Lagares' two-out infield single.
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"It was fun, and all I was hoping for to go out there to execute some pitches and have fun," said Lugo, whose effort was preserved by one-inning relief work each from Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed.
Tyler Flowers doubled and scored on Dansby Swanson's game-tying sacrifice fly in the second inning. But the Braves did not provide any further support to Jaime Garcia, who recorded a season-high nine strikeouts while allowing two runs over seven innings.
Garcia has allowed three earned runs or fewer while completing at least seven innings in four of his past five starts. He has exited each of those four outings without a win, primarily because he has received two runs or fewer or support in each.
"That happens sometimes," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "That's part of the job and the part he can't control. He can control shutting a team down. He did a great job with that. It's just one of those things guys go through."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Quick strike: Conforto entered the game with a .163 career batting average against left-handed pitchers, and Garcia had limited left-handed batters to a .212 batting average this season. But the Mets left fielder drilled the game's first pitch into the left-center-field gap for a leadoff double, and he came home on Wilmer Flores' sacrifice fly.
"It was a straight fastball, and I wanted to get ahead there and start the game off on the right note," Conforto said. "Garcia's got some good stuff and some good sink to his pitches. I didn't want to wait around against him, and I think it set the tone a little bit."
Garcia regretted his decision to begin the game with a four-seam fastball against a left-handed hitter.
"You try to get ahead, but at the same time against a good hitter like him, especially lefty on lefty, I try to use my stuff that moves," Garcia said.
After further review:Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis singled ahead of a Matt Kemp walk to load the bases against Lugo with one out in the fifth inning. Matt Adams followed with a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Adams was initially called safe at first base. But what would have been a game-tying RBI groundout was erased when a replay review reversed the call and resulted in an inning-ending double play.
"We just had a tough couple days scoring runs," Snitker said after his team was limited to one run for the third consecutive game and fourth time within the past seven games. More >
"You watch the catcher sometimes, and it's almost like they're trying to catch a knuckleball because there is so much movement. He's throwing really, really well right now." -- Snitker on Garcia, who registered a season-high 18 swinging strikes in this loss
The Braves issued a successful challenge after Lugo was called safe at first base in the seventh inning. The call was overturned when a review of one minute and 48 seconds showed Adams received third baseman Johan Camargo's throw and tagged the Mets' pitcher in front of the bag.
Mets:Jacob deGrom returns home to face the Cubs at Citi Field on Monday at 7:10 p.m. deGrom looks to shake off recent struggles, as he's pitched to an 8.82 ERA in his last three starts.
Braves:Mike Foltynewicz will take the mound when Atlanta begins a three-game series at Nationals Park on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Foltynewicz enters this start against the Nationals having not allowed a run within his past two starts (14 innings).
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