Riley caps rally as Braves spoil Mets’ big day with 5-4 win
NEW YORK (AP) — Austin Riley watched from the on-deck circle as Nick Markakis drove Seth Lugo’s fastball for a tying homer. The Braves rookie had a hunch what might come next.
“I took a little chance and sat slider there,” he said. “And got it.”
Markakis and Riley hit consecutive solo homers to give Atlanta the lead in the eighth inning, and the Braves spoiled the New York Mets’ feel-good Saturday by rallying for a 5-4 win.
Braves closer Luke Jackson stranded runners at second and third for his 13th save, handing New York its seventh straight loss.
The 1969 World Series champion Mets were honored on the field before the game, and then former independent ball pitcher Chris Mazza found himself in line for the victory after a sharp major league debut.
The back-to-back homers ruined that. Markakis, who entered when second baseman Ozzie Albies was hit by a pitch and left the game, homered off a struggling Lugo (3-2) to tie it at 4. Riley crushed a soaring shot on the next pitch to put Atlanta ahead. It was the 22-year-old’s 14th homer of the season and second in two nights.
“He’s a student of the game,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He doesn’t panic. He stays with his approach. He’s a very mature kid for his age.”
Sean Newcomb (2-0) tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Jackson worked around an error by first baseman Freddie Freeman and a walk, ending it by striking out Dominic Smith on three pitches.
“I saw a little fire there after he got in trouble,” Snitker said.
New York has dropped 13 of 17, and the club is a season-worst 10 games under .500. The bullpen has blown a major league-most 21 saves in 39 opportunities, and Lugo has squandered a lead in his last three appearances.
“We’re out there confident,” Lugo said. “I was out there confident today. I made a lot of good pitches. I made two bad pitches.”
Ronald Acuña Jr. and Dansby Swanson each had three hits for NL East-leading Atlanta, which improved to 50-34, the fastest the franchise has gotten to 50 wins since 2003.
Mazza replaced starter Steven Matz in the third after a 70-minute rain delay and pitched four innings of one-run ball. That allowed the Mets to rally behind Smith’s solo homer, Jeff McNeil’s two RBI doubles and Robinson Canó’s tiebreaking single.
Canó was booed after a strikeout in the second but had his second straight multihit game.
Mazza entered and allowed a single to Acuña, and Swanson promptly scored him with a double, but the 29-year-old right-hander settled in after that. He struck out two and permitted five hits and no walks, letting out a big yell after fanning Tyler Flowers to end the sixth.
Mazza, a relative of Yankees great Joe DiMaggio, was in his eighth minor league season before being called up. He pitched in the independent Atlantic League and Pacific Association last season. His parents were in the stands cheering Saturday.
“For it to finally get here was amazing,” Mazza said. “It was a dream come true.”
Markakis homered on a 3-0 pitch for the first time in his 14 big league seasons. He only had two previous hits on that count, mostly because he rarely swings.
“The scoreboard dictates everything,” he said. “3-0, I’m just waiting for the green light down there from my third base coach.”
FETE THE METS
Fifteen members of the Miracle Mets paraded down Seaver Way in classic cars, received keys to New York City from Mayor Bill de Blasio and told the same stories for what felt like the millionth time.
“This will be a million and one,” joked outfielder Cleon Jones.
The loudest cheers came for the family of ace Tom Seaver, who had the street outside the stadium renamed in his honor Thursday and will get a statue outside the stadium. The 74-year-old Seaver has dementia and could not attend.
“The thing that hurts the most is that he wasn’t there,” said catcher Jerry Grote, choking back tears when asked about his ex-battery mate.
Plate umpire Bill Welke left after being struck in the mask by a foul ball. Welke was hit in the fifth inning and exited after the sixth. Second base umpire Roberto Ortiz moved behind the plate, and the crew continued the game with three umpires.
Braves: Albies was pulled in the sixth after being hit by a pitch on the inside of his left elbow. He was visited by a trainer and remained in the game to run the bases, but was replaced on defense for the bottom of the inning. Snitker said Albies was hit in the funny bone and might need a day off, but he wasn’t concerned about a long-term absence.
Mets: RHP Jeurys Familia (shoulder) came out of Friday night’s rehab appearance with Class A Brooklyn feeling well. The team is considering whether to give him another tuneup. ... LHP Justin Wilson (elbow soreness) will throw a bullpen Sunday and could begin a rehab assignment after that.
Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard (5-4, 4.55 ERA) is set to come off the injured list to face Braves LHP Max Fried (9-3, 3.96) in the series finale Sunday night.
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