Braves sweep Mets, give Sheets a win in his return to mound

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman hit a three-run home run to cap a six-run fifth inning and the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 6-1 on Sunday, sweeping the three-game series from their division rivals.

The Braves made a winner of Ben Sheets (1-0), who took the mound almost exactly two years from the date of his last major-league start, July 19, 2010. Sheets allowed two hits, both in the second inning, in six innings while striking out five and walking one.

"It was pretty incredible," Sheets said of walking onto the field for the start after Tommy John surgery cost him all of 2011. "The last time I walked out there, I thought I was done."

Matt Diaz, who started in left field because of his .514 batting average against Mets ace Johan Santana (6-6), doubled to lead off the fifth inning. Two batters later, Michael Bourn doubled to left and drove him in with the first run of the game.

Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen strode to the mound immediately, which turned out to be a pretext for giving home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor a piece of his mind. It didn't help. The Braves got another run on a sacrifice fly and three consecutive hits, ending with Freeman's home run.

"It's tough when you have one pitch like that and it could be the difference in the game," Santana said. The Mets were unhappy about the walk to Paul Janish that followed Diaz's double.

The Braves scored their winning runs with two outs in each of the three games played.

"When your teammates go up there and put up good at-bats," Freeman said, "you don't want to go up behind them and just give one away."

The Mets, who had patiently worn down Braves pitching in the first two games, never tested Sheets, who had made only two minor-league starts before his debut with the Braves. But Brian McCann, catching him for the first time, said, "To come out and throw strikes with all four pitches, he kept them off balance."

Atlanta Manager Fredi Gonzalez had joked before the game that the Mets' batters were "pesky" and "a pain." Sunday they were just went quietly until finally scoring a run in the seventh. Josh Torres' single drove in Scott Hairston, who doubled with one out.

"We've got to pick it up," Mets manager Terry Collins said of his team, which has lost four straight games and is 3-7 in the last 10.

NOTES: Mets outfielder Jason Bay went 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored on an injury rehab assignment with Class AAA Buffalo on Saturday. The Mets are off Monday before a three-game series at Washington. While Bay could join the team then, Collins wants him to play as many Class AAA games as possible. "This is about at-bats," Collins says. "I'm not worried about fatigue." ... Mets outfielder Lucas Duda will have his sore left hamstring checked out by a doctor Monday. ... Mets right-hander Frank Francisco continued to be treated for an oblique injury and has been shut down from throwing. ... Janish, acquired Saturday from the Reds in exchange for minor-league pitcher Todd Redmond, started for the Braves. ... Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla got another unwelcome start off. Gonzalez wanted to start Diaz in left against Santana -- he was 18-for-35 (.514) against him while Uggla was 1-for-21 -- and didn't want to take INF/OF Martin Prado's bat out of the lineup; Prado started at second base. ... Right-hander Randall Delgado was optioned to Class AAA Gwinnett, where he will start Monday. The Braves plan to bring him back to start one of the games of next Saturday's doubleheader against the Nationals in Washington. ... Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons, on the disabled list with a broken right little finger, joked that the huge cast on his hand is annoying him so much he was ready to hack it off with scissors when its bulkiness woke him up at 5 a.m.
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