Braves 8, Mets 1
“Kyle was probably the greatest 13-year-old hitter I’ve ever seen,” Francoeur said with a smile. “But times change.”
The .096 career hitter drove a three-run homer over the center-field wall, giving him plenty of room to brag afterward.
When Davies showed up at his locker, he politely asked reporters to hold off on their questions until he got dressed. Fellow pitcher Tim Hudson couldn’t resist chiming in, “Oh, now you tell them to wait, when you’ve just hit a homer.”
Davies responded quickly: “Oh, he’s just mad because he didn’t hit one.”
Over the last two years, Davies has been all or nothing at the plate. He went 1-for-23 in 2006, the lone hit being a homer. His three-run drive off Aaron Sele snapped an 0-for-13 start to this season.
“Once in a blue moon, he’ll connect for one,” Francoeur said, making sure to speak loud enough for Davies to hear.
While Davies allowed only six hits, his biggest splash came in the sixth. Sele tried to avoid walking the pitcher by throwing a 3-1 fastball right down the middle. Davies was ready, driving it over the 400-foot sign with plenty to spare.
“When you’re a pitcher, you have to get lucky,” said Davies, who found the ball waiting at his locker when he got to the clubhouse. “If he had thrown it anywhere else, I probably would have missed it.”
Davies didn’t look all that pumped up about his homer, calmly circling the bases with his head down. There wasn’t even a smile when he touched home and was congratulated by teammates Andruw Jones and Willie Harris.
“I still had to go out there and pitch,” said Davies, who was grinning from ear to ear when it was done.
The Braves returned home from a 4-6 road trip that dropped them from first to second in the NL East behind the Mets, who had surged to the league’s best record by winning nine of 12.
Atlanta closed to within 1 1/2 games of the division lead—and beat the Mets for the fifth time in seven meetings—by knocking around one of its former starters. Jorge Sosa (3-1) surrendered six hits, walked three and was charged with five runs during his four-inning stint.
The Braves scored two runs apiece in the second and third, then Scott Thorman hit a 1-2 pitch deep into the right-field stands in the fourth. Shawn Green didn’t even bother turning around as the ball landed midway up in the lower deck.
Handed the big lead, Davies (2-2) put together another strong start to solidify his spot in the Braves’ thin rotation. Before the game, Atlanta released left-hander Mark Redman and will likely dip into the minors this weekend for another candidate for the fifth slot.
Davies struggled through the first month, going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. The right-hander has pitched much better in May, having lasted at least 6 2-3 innings in three of four appearances while lowering his ERA to 4.47.
“He seems to make a pitch when he has to,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “We got men in scoring position, and he seemed to make a pitch to get out of it.”
Davies allowed only two hits through the first four innings, and one of them was erased with a double play. By then, the Braves had already roughed up Sosa, who went 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA for the Braves in 2005 but was dumped the following year.
After starting this season at New York’s Triple-A team in New Orleans, Sosa was recalled at the start of the month and won his first three starts, lasting at least 6 1-3 innings in each of them.
“I was opening my front shoulder too quick and I didn’t have any command of my pitches,” Sosa said. “I feel down on myself because I let the team down, especially having Atlanta behind us. I know it was a big game for us.”
The Braves struck in the second with back-to-back doubles by Brian McCann and Francoeur. Andruw Jones made it 2-0 with a run-scoring single.
The next inning, Sosa walked two around a double by Kelly Johnson to load the bases with no outs. Chipper Jones hit a sacrifice fly and McCann made it 4-0 with a single to center.
The Mets scored their lone run off Davies in the fifth. Green and Paul Lo Duca started off with a pair of singles, and Green wound up scoring on an infield force. New York might have put together a bigger inning if a disputed call had gone their way.
Johnson dropped a relay throw at second base while attempting to turn a double play. Umpire Mark Carlson ruled he lost control while attempting to switch to his throwing hand, giving the Braves an important out.
Slumping Andruw Jones, who had been the Braves’ cleanup hitter, batted sixth for the second game in a row. He went 2-for-3 with a walk. … The Mets broke ground on a $7.5 million training academy in the Dominican Republic, scheduled to open next April.
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