ATLANTA (AP)—Kelly Johnson couldn’t talk his way into the lineup before the game. He was as persuasive as possible when given a chance during the game.
Johnson, the regular second baseman, didn’t start for the third straight game due to his sore right knee. With two outs in the seventh and the Braves leading 5-3, Johnson pulled a 3-2 pitch from Jorge Sosa into the right-field seats for his second career grand slam.
“It feels better when you don’t have to run,” Johnson joked after the game. “I was not up there hacking for anything like that. I just wanted to put the ball in play hard.”
Johnson ran sprints before the game under the supervision of trainer Jeff Porter, and told Porter he was ready to play.
Manager Bobby Cox decided to wait at least one more day to put Johnson in the lineup. Cox took advantage of the bases-loaded situation to use Johnson, who hit 16 homers in 2007, as a pinch-hitter.
“He’s a pretty good weapon on the bench,” Cox said. “He’s a good hitter and that’s a good way to get back in there, a grand slam.”
“I thought he was overthrowing a little bit,” said Mets manager Willie Randolph of Maine. “He was up in the zone most of the day.”
The Braves led 4-1 in the fifth when the umpires initially ruled Jose Reyes hit into an inning-ending fly ball double play with the bases loaded. Replays showed the ball bounced before center fielder Mark Kotsay dove and trapped it.
Randolph argued the call by third-base umpire Bruce Dreckman. With Braves players already off the field, the umpires huddled and eventually credited Reyes with a run-scoring single.
“(Dreckman’s) explanation was crazy,” Randolph said. “He didn’t want to change it because he didn’t know where to put the runners.
“He said (Kotsay) caught the ball. I said, ‘Ask for help.’ He wouldn’t ask for help. That’s when I blew a gasket. You’ve got to ask for help. He said, ‘We’ve got to leave it the way it is because where do we place the runners?”’
Cox said all the umpires overruled Dreckman once they were called together by crew chief Gerry Davis.
“They got it right,” Cox said. “That’s the most important thing. … What’s fair is fair.”
Cox subsequently argued that Pagan should be called out, but the umpires decided to award each runner one base.
Cox said he argued “about runners passing each other” but didn’t press his case.
“The umpire’s error knocks all that out,” Cox said. “So they gave them one base and that’s it.”
Francoeur and Matt Diaz had run-scoring singles off Maine in Atlanta’s two-run third inning.
Former Mets second baseman Ruben Gotay hit a pinch-hit single in the sixth and scored on Kotsay’s single to push the lead to 5-3.
Maine threw 104 pitches while giving up eight hits and four runs with three walks in four innings. He struck out five.
Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado hit doubles in the Mets’ two-run eighth against Royce Ring. ^Notes: David Wright was 0-for-4, ending his 20-game hitting streak that began Sept. 19, 2007. … The Braves changed their pitching rotation, moving John Smoltz into Sunday’s start against Johan Santana. Tom Glavine was pushed back to Monday night’s game at Colorado. … 2B Martin Prado stole second base in the second inning, giving the Braves their first steal in five games. It was Prado’s first career stolen base and his first attempt.