ATLANTA — After completing an 8-3 road trip with a four-game sweep in Philadelphia, the Atlanta Braves were hoping to turn around their recent misfortunes at Turner Field.
Thanks to the New York Mets’ late-game fielding woes, the Braves are off to a good start.
Atlanta took advantage of three errors and scored four times in the eighth inning to defeat the Mets 5-3 on Monday night before a crowd of 28,075.
The victory was just the Braves’ sixth in their past 16 home games, but kept them in first place in the National League East by a half game over Washington.
“When you put the ball in play, funning things happen,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
It wasn’t humorous to the Mets, though.
“When you are developing young players, there are going to be hiccups,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “There are going to be mistakes made.”
That was certainly the case in the eighth inning. Three of the four runs in that inning were unearned, and the Braves’ final tally was walked in.
Rookie reliever Jeurys Familia (1-3) made one of the costly errors himself, and allowed three hits and a walk. Dana Eveland walked in a run to cap the disastrous inning.
“Three-run homers are nice, but they are hard to come by,” said Braves right fielder Jason Heyward, who had his second hit in the big inning. “We took what they gave us.”
Mets starter Zack Wheeler walked five and hit a batter, but allowed just four hits and a run in what turned out to be a no-decision after the Braves’ rally in the eighth inning. The right-hander struck four while bouncing back from a rough two-inning outing against Oakland in his previous start.
Braves starter Alex Wood, meanwhile, allowed a leadoff homer to center fielder Curtis Granderson, but retired the last 11 Mets he faced while allowing six hits and three runs over six innings. He struck out seven, including four of his last five hitters, and walked one.
“He kept us hanging around and kind of pitched like a veteran,” Gonzalez said.
Anthony Varvaro (3-1) got credit for the victory after pitching a scoreless eighth inning, and Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save in 29 opportunities.
Wood allowed just three hits over seven scoreless innings in his return to the rotation last Wednesday at Houston, but Granderson jumped on the left-hander’s third pitch to give the Mets an ultra-quick lead on Monday.
After falling behind in the count 2-0, Wood left a fastball in the middle of the plate, and Granderson broke an 0-for-17 skid with a long drive over the fence in right-center field. It was the left-handed hitter’s 11th homer of the season and the 26th leadoff blast of his career.
“He pretty much knew he was getting a fastball,” Wood said.
The Mets added single runs in the second and third innings. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud delivered an RBI double in the second, and left fielder Chris Young contributed a sacrifice fly in the third.
Wheeler walked four batters and plunked another before the Braves got their first hit — a leadoff double by Heyward in the fourth. The right-hander walked another batter in the inning, but the Braves didn’t break through until the fifth.
First baseman Freddie Freeman, who walked for a second RBI in the eighth inning, had a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
Center fielder B.J. Upton, who has a seven-game hitting streak since moving to the leadoff spot, was 2-for-4 with a walk, while rookie second baseman Tommy La Stella had two walks and an RBI single.
NOTES: An MRI exam revealed that Braves C Evan Gattis has a bulging thoracic disk in his back. Gattis, who was hurt Friday swinging at a pitch in Philadelphia, will be placed on the disabled list. … Mets 3B David Wright, sidelined by a bruised left rotator cuff, will remain out through the series against the Braves, but manager Terry Collins said there was “zero” consideration of putting him on the disabled list. Wright is expected to be back in the lineup when the Mets open an interleague series with the Texas Rangers at Citi Field on Friday. Wright last played Thursday in Pittsburgh. … Frank Cashen, the architect of the New York Mets team that won the 1986 World Series, died Monday at age 88. He was general manager from 1980 through 1991, turning a doormat into a team that was 743-550 over his final eight seasons. … Braves RHP David Carpenter, on the DL since June 17 because of a strained biceps, struck out all three batters he faced in his second rehab outing for Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday. The reliever is expected to be activated Wednesday.