NEW YORK — Eric Stults gave the Atlanta Braves an encouraging outing from the back of their rotation. They needed a better performance by the bullpen and a little more luck to slow down the streaking Mets.
Lucas Duda hit a go-ahead single off Jim Johnson in the eighth inning that sent New York to its 10th consecutive victory April 22, 3-2 over the Braves.
“When you win 10 in a row, a lot of stuff’s got to go right. And you know, good for them. That’s how you get these streaks,” said Atlanta Manager Fredi Gonzalez, who started eight left-handed hitters against Mets pitcher Dillon Gee. “But you know what? They’re not hurting themselves. They’re taking advantage of our mistakes.”
Wilmer Flores tied it 2-all with a solo homer off Braves reliever Cody Martin in the seventh.
Pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson drew a leadoff walk from Johnson (1-1) in the eighth and went to third when Juan Lagares chopped a hit-and-run single barely through the right side of the infield.
“You just can’t make mistakes, because when you run into a team like this it’s hard to cover it up,” Gonzalez said.
Duda poked an opposite-field single to left for his latest clutch hit this season. “I feel like I executed a lot of pitches,” Johnson said. “It seems like a little luck went their way and it seems like it’s been going their way.”
Buddy Carlyle (1-0) retired dangerous pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes with two on in the eighth, and Jeurys Familia got three quick outs for his seventh save.
Stults allowed one run and four hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked none. “He gave us a great chance to win a game,” Gonzalez said.
A.J. Pierzynski went 3 for 3 with a walk for Atlanta, and Andrelton Simmons had an RBI single. Ex-Met Eric Young Jr. tripled and scored on Alberto Callaspo’s sacrifice fly.
“Our bullpen’s done a great job all year. It’s just unfortunate that tonight it just didn’t go their way and our way,” Stults said. “We played well tonight. But it’s just one of those things where a team gets momentum and they kind of feed off of it.”
Flores also had an RBI single for the Mets (12-3), on their longest winning streak since taking 10 straight in July 2008.
Another victory in the series finale April 23 would match the team record of 11 in a row — last accomplished in 1990 — and complete a perfect 10-game run on their first homestand of the season.
Despite injuries to several key players, New York is off to its best start since the 1986 World Series champions opened 13-3.
“These guys have just taken off. I salute every single one of them,” Manager Terry Collins said. “Pitching has been remarkable.”
Helped out by some slick defense, Gee allowed only two runs in seven innings after the first pitch was delayed 31 minutes by rain.
Second baseman Ruben Tejada robbed Nick Markakis of a hit by leaping high for a snow-cone grab, and Gold Glove winner Lagares ran down Jace Peterson’s drive in deep center, reaching behind his head for a sensational catch.
“Did the little things right and played great defense,” Gee said. “It’s been a lot of fun around here lately.”
(MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer)