Mets 9, Braves 7, 1st game; Braves 7, Mets 1, 2nd game
NEW YORK (AP)—Mets manager Art Howe ended a long day on a sour note.
That was just how it started, too.
“We thought we had the first one won, to be honest with you,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “Let it slip by.”
Mike Piazza and Richard Hidalgo homered in the opener, helping the Mets rally for a 9-7 win. Pinch-hitter Craig Brazell came through with a go-ahead double, making sure Howe had at least one thing to smile about on a difficult day.
A newspaper reported Monday that the slumping Mets have already decided to fire Howe after the season. He said if that’s true, he wants to be let go immediately.
“Why put me through this?” Howe said. “I’d rather have it happen now. There’s no sense in waiting.”
Drew and Adam LaRoche each hit a two-out, two-run double during Atlanta’s four-run third inning in the nightcap. Jae Seo (4-10) got into trouble when he walked Byrd with one out.
“Jae didn’t have anything at all tonight,” Howe said. “They hit him hard. He didn’t have his command, he was walking people. You can’t walk the pitcher.”
That was plenty for Byrd, who quickly recovered after Mike Cameron homered on his first pitch. Byrd (7-5) allowed seven hits, struck out four and walked none to win for the third time in four starts.
“We didn’t want to get swept,” he said. “When you’re out there throwing and your arm feels good, it’s fun. I’m starting to feel good, getting all my pitches back.”
Byrd credited pitching coach Leo Mazzone for pointing out an adjustment during the game that helped him keep the ball down. The right-hander improved to 8-1 in 13 lifetime appearances against his former team, including 11 starts.
“He came up big tonight. We were kind of concerned about the bullpen after yesterday burned everybody up,” Cox said.
Chris Reitsma finished with a perfect ninth.
Drew went 6-for-9 with four RBIs in the doubleheader, and LaRoche was 4-for-7. The NL East-leading Braves sent the free-falling Mets to their 20th loss in 23 games.
Until last Wednesday against Philadelphia, the Braves hadn’t been swept in a doubleheader since July 22, 1994, at St. Louis. They didn’t want it to happen again.
“We’ve got to start a new streak,” Byrd said.
Seo allowed five runs and seven hits in four innings, dropping to 0-5 in nine outings since beating Cincinnati 7-5 on June 29.
“After I gave up the walk to the pitcher, things kind of unraveled from that,” Seo said through a translator. “The command of all my pitches was bad. The velocity is definitely there.”
New York is only 2 1/2 games ahead of last-place Montreal in the NL East.
After the Mets spent all afternoon answering questions about Howe, they came back from a three-run deficit in the opener for an uplifting victory.
“I didn’t read any stories. I didn’t even know what was going on. I don’t think that changes anything,” Heilman said. “We’ve got to go out there and give it everything we’ve got, every game, every pitch, every inning. I don’t think it’s changed our approach at all.”
New York scored five times in the sixth. Piazza hit a two-run homer, and Brazell’s two-out, two-run double gave the Mets a 5-4 lead.
The RBIs were the first of Brazell’s major league career. Cameron capped the burst with an RBI single off Kevin Gryboski.
Chipper Jones hit a two-run double in the ninth.
Heilman, recalled from Triple-A Norfolk last Wednesday, allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings for his first win since Aug. 12, 2003, against San Francisco.
Chipper Jones got his 1,697th hit, passing Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville for fourth place on the Braves’ career list. Dale Murphy is third with 1,901. … Mets 1B Todd Zeile singled in the second game to move within four hits of 2,000. … Cameron hit his first leadoff homer since the 2000 season, with Seattle at Texas. It was the eighth leadoff homer this year for the Mets, a team record. … The Braves lead the season series 9-4. … The Mets are 3-3 in doubleheaders. They swept Colorado and were swept by the Yankees. … Brazell also had a pinch-hit single in the nightcap. … New York LHP Tom Glavine, hit on the left shin by a comebacker Sunday, expects to make his next start Friday. … Attendance was 21,476 for a doubleheader that was scheduled to make up a July 23 rainout. … Wright had won three straight decisions.