Mets 9, Braves 4

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NEW YORK (AP)—The New York Mets heard all about highly touted Jose Capellan and his hard fastballs, so they expected to see some right away.

They made sure the Atlanta Braves’ rookie wasn’t around to throw any more of them after the first inning.

Richard Hidalgo and Todd Zeile hit back-to-back homers in New York’s seven-run opening inning against Capellan, leading the Mets to a 9-4 victory Thursday night.

“It was a good feeling,” Hidalgo said. “He threw a lot of fastballs and threw them hard, but everybody hit them.”

Mike Cameron had three hits and drove in two runs for the Mets, who took three of five against the Braves. A day after manager Art Howe was fired, effective at the end of the season, New York won its first series since taking two of three at Colorado on Aug. 17-19.

“That was a great first inning and we won a series, so that’s good,” Howe said.

Steve Trachsel (11-13) allowed four runs—two earned—and eight hits in six-plus innings to win for the first time since beating Houston on Aug. 10. He had lost five straight decisions and was winless in his last six starts.

“It was very nice because I had runs to work with,” Trachsel said. “It gives you room to just trust in your pitches.”

The Braves knocked Trachsel out in the seventh when Eddie Perez, Charles Thomas and Mark DeRosa all singled to load the bases.

“When you play the Braves, I don’t care if you have a 15-run lead—they’re going to find a way to get the tying run to the plate,” Howe said.

Heath Bell came in and got Wilson Betemit to ground to first for the first out, but Perez scored to make it 8-4. Bell struck out Marcus Giles before walking Wise to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Julio Franco struck out swinging to end the inning.

“Heath was impressive,” Trachsel said. “That was a real tough spot for him to come in to, and he was awesome.”

Atlanta’s magic number for clinching its 13th straight division title remained at 10 after the Florida Marlins beat Montreal 4-3.

The Mets got to work quickly against Capellan (0-1), pitching on three days’ rest.

“Lots of balls in the heart of the plate and they hit them hard,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Cameron hit a leadoff double, stole third and scored on Jeff Keppinger’s sacrifice fly. Cliff Floyd walked, and Mike Piazza and David Wright followed with consecutive singles to make it 2-0.

With runners on first and second, Hidalgo sent Capellan’s first pitch into the first deck of seats in left field for his 25th homer to give the Mets a 5-0 lead. Zeile followed with his eighth homer to make it 6-0, marking the 10th time the Mets have hit consecutive home runs this season.

“It’s always good to give the pitcher some breathing room,” Zeile said. “We haven’t been doing that lately.”

Wilson Delgado walked, moved to second on Trachsel’s sacrifice and scored on Cameron’s RBI single—his second hit of the inning.

It was the first time the Mets have scored seven or more in the opening inning since scoring seven on July 31, 2002, against Houston.

Capellan, filling in for an injured Mike Hampton, allowed seven runs, six hits and walked two in one inning in his second big league start.

“I was just leaving the ball up—just a bad outing,” Capellan said, with Franco translating. “No excuses. I just got beat. Their team was hitting good today.”

The Mets added a run in the fifth when third baseman Chipper Jones committed an error on Hidalgo’s grounder, and Zeile followed with an RBI double.

Atlanta scored three times in the sixth to cut it to 8-3. Pinch-hitter Dewayne Wise hit an RBI single with one out, Jones hit a grounder went between the legs of second baseman Keppinger for a run-scoring error, and Andruw Jones followed with an RBI groundout.

Cameron hit a run-scoring ground-rule double in the seventh to make it 9-4.

“We’ve been losing a lot of games lately, so this is something we needed,” Hidalgo said.


The teams split the 10 games at New York, but the Braves have won five of six at Atlanta, with three more to play. … Zeile, who will start at catcher for the first time in more than 14 years Friday, is two hits shy of 2,000 for his career. … Floyd is one hit away from 1,100. … Cox was uncertain if Capellan will make his next start for the Braves. He said Hampton will throw a side session on Friday, and the team will decide if he’ll be able to start or if Capellan will fill in for him again.

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