Mets' rally cut short by Heyward's diving catch
Justin Turner followed the flight of his well-struck drive to left-center and thought his return from the disabled list was going to have a storybook ending.
Not so fast.
Jason Heyward ran all the way from right-center field to make a diving catch that preserved the Atlanta Braves' 2-1, come-from-behind victory over the New York Mets on Monday night and spoiled a gem by Dillon Gee.
"I went up there and tried to take a good at-bat, and unfortunately ended up on the wrong end of a highlight reel," Turner said.
Gee didn't allow a hit until Freddie Freeman singled leading off the seventh inning and Ike Davis put the right-hander in position for a win with his first RBI since July 5, a single in the fourth. But Bobby Parnell (5-5) was unable close out the ninth.
With shortstop Omar Quintanilla playing behind second base in a shift, Brian McCann singled through the opening at short to open the ninth. Evan Gattis followed with a bloop single to right-center. David Wright then fielded Dan Uggla's grounder and stepped on third before leaping over a sliding pinch-runner Jose Constanza. John Buck's passed ball on a high fastball put runners in scoring position before Chris Johnson's grounder tied it.
"I thought I saw fastball, and he said curveball," Parnell said. "We don't know who's right and who's wrong."
Batting for reliever Jordan Walden, Reed Johnson then lined a single to center for the lead.
But the Mets rallied in the rain.
Craig Kimbrel hit Buck with a pitch with one out, drawing the Mets fans ire as he tried to get comfortable in the steady downpour by walking off the mound after nearly every pitch. Pinch-runner Andrew Brown advanced to second on a wild pitch and Quintanilla drew a 10-pitch walk.
Turner then hit a 1-0 pitch to left-center at Citi Field, but Heyward, who was playing in center field because B.J. Upton is on the disabled list, made a flat out dive to preserve the Braves' first win in three games. Kimbrel earned his 28th save.
"He's got that Rawlings Gold Glove for some reason. It doesn't matter (what outfield position he's in)," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He covers right field like a center fielder, and he made a hell of a play to save the game."
Walden (4-1) pitched the eighth for the win.
"You've got to credit them," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "There's a reason why they've got a 6 1/2-game lead in this division."
Julio Teheran kept pace with Gee, allowing only Davis' RBI single.
The Braves wasted a big chance in the seventh when Freeman led off with their first hit. Atlanta then loaded the bases with one out on a single by Gattis and Uggla was hit by a pitch.
Gee threw his gutsiest pitches of the night with the bases jammed. First Chris Johnson grounded to third baseman Wright, who rushed the slow bouncer and threw home for a fielder's choice. Then Gee tossed two pitches in the dirt that pinch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich chased for an inning-ending strikeout. Mets fans gave Gee a loud cheer as he walked off the field.
"That was satisfying because I wasn't doing that at all early in the year, getting out of jams like that," Gee said. "It was nice to get out of one for once and still keep us in the game."
Gee was lifted after that inning, having thrown 96 pitches and allowing two hits and three walks. He has tossed 13 2-3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
"He's always changing speeds. He's always moving it around. You're really not getting the same pitch twice," Collins said. "That's what's made him successful."
Teheran put runners on base in each of the first four innings, but picked off leadoff man Eric Young Jr. after walking him in the first. Teheran couldn't overcome Marlon Byrd's leadoff triple in the fourth, though.
Byrd hit a sinking line drive to right field that went under the glove of a charging Justin Upton and rolled to the wall. Byrd raced around second and the fans' cheers began to swell but turned to a collective "aww" when he was held at third rather than try for an inside-the-park homer.
Davis followed with a sharp grounder under diving first baseman Freeman for the 1-0 lead. It was Davis' first RBI since he drove in two runs in his first game back from the minors.
The popular first baseman got his first extra-base hit in 54 plate appearances in the second inning, when he doubled just inside the left field line. Davis homered on June 2 before the drought started.
NOTES: Mets rookie center fielder Juan Lagares was named NL player of the week. He went 7 for 10 with two doubles, one homer and five RBIs over his last three games. ... The Braves are putting LHP Paul Maholm (wrist strain) on the 15-day DL. Rookie Alex Wood will make his second big league start in his place. Atlanta CF B.J. Upton (leg muscle strain) ran for the first time since going on the DL July 14, retroactive to the 13th. But Gonzalez said Upton likely will not be ready to be activated when eligible this weekend.
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