NEW YORK — Braves pitchers are thankful Andrelton Simmons is their shortstop and not another powerful pitching arm.
The 24-year old would not sign with Atlanta in 2010 unless the Braves allowed him to remain in the infield.
With the potential tying run on third base in the eighth inning on Aug. 27, he ranged onto the outfield grass to snag Travis d’Arnaud’s grounder, then made a one-hop throw to first baseman Freddie Freeman.
That preserved the lead as the Braves beat the New York Mets 3-2 behind Julio Teheran’s strong start to stop a three-game losing streak.
“Two out, man on third, not only does he make the play, but he makes an accurate throw to first base,” Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Today, Teheran should take him out to dinner because he saved him the win.”
Teheran (13-9) gave up three hits in 6 1-3 innings, struck out four and walked two. “My fastball was working and I threw my changeup more,” he said. “I think that’s how I got them off-balance.”
Jason Heyward connected on Zack Wheeler’s third pitch of the game for his 11th homer of the season.
After Wilmer Flores’ home run tied the game in the second, the Braves went ahead for good in the third when Phil Gosselin reached on a bunt single, Freeman doubled, Justin Upton hit a broken-bat RBI groundout and shortstop Ruben Tejada allowed Evan Gattis’ two-out bouncer to pop out of his glove for a run-scoring error.
“Justin’s at-bat was huge,” Heyward said. “It was a broken bat and scored the go-ahead run. When you put the ball in play, it puts pressure on the defense. And then when Gattis put the ball in play, they made an error and it led to another run.”
Craig Kimbrel allowed Eric Campbell’s leadoff single in the ninth and walked Matt den Dekker. After Flores sacrificed, Gosselin threw out Campbell at the plate on Tejada’s grounder to third and pinch-hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis flied hit a game-ending flyout. Kimbrel got his 39th save in 43 chances.
Juan Lagares had an RBI single in the eighth off Jordan Walden before Lucas Duda grounded into a double play. Then came Simmons’ sterling throw.
“It looks like he has no chance, and then in the last second, he just reaches for it and throws it,” d’Arnaud said. “What a great play.”
Wheeler (9-9) gave up three runs — two earned — four hits and three walks in seven innings with seven strikeouts. He had been 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA in 10 starts since losing to Oakland on June 25.
Atlanta began the night 1 1/2 games behind San Francisco for the second NL wild card.