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Bullpen leaves mark on Mets' 4-3 win

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- It could have been ugly when the New York Mets lost starting pitcher Jonathon Niese to shoulder discomfort in the fourth inning. Instead, the team's much-maligned bullpen came through with one of its best efforts of the season.

Five relievers combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings as the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 on Thursday night.

"They stepped up tonight," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We played well, pitched well. We've got to realize we can compete."

The Mets' bullpen was called into action when Niese left the game with discomfort in his left shoulder with one out in the fourth inning. Niese motioned to the dugout after making his 61st pitch and immediately left the game.

Collins said it is too early to speculate on any roster move concerning Niese, who has been dealing with some shoulder tendinitis. He will be examined by a doctor on Friday.

"He's fought through some discomfort," Collins said. "We'll wait and see what happens."

The combination of relievers David Aardsma, LaTroy Hawkins (2-0), Brandon Lyon, Josh Edgin and Bobby Parnell allowed only five hits. Parnell pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save.

"Even when Niese came out, they did a good job piecing it together," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We had people on base and didn't score anybody."

New York hit three solo home runs against Atlanta starter Mike Minor (8-3), two by David Wright and one by pinch-hitter Andrew Brown.

Wright hit his 10th and 11th home runs, making him the first player in team history to have double-digit home runs in 10 straight seasons. It was the 20th multiple homer game of Wright's career and gave him 32 against the Braves in his career.

The Mets scored the go-ahead run in the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Luis Quintanilla and pinch-hitter Josh Satin.

Minor gave up nine hits and allowed four earned runs for the second straight start. He matched a career high by allowing three home runs.

"The three home runs were just bad pitches," Minor said. "Give credit to those guys. I threw three bad pitches and they took them out of the park."

Atlanta had 13 hits but left 11 runners on base. The Braves were only 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and had runners on the corners in the eighth, but the rally ended when Jason Heyward grounded to first.

"We got 13 hits and only three runs," Gonzalez said. "We had people on base and couldn't get the knock when we needed to."

The Mets opened the scoring in the first inning when Wright connected for a long home run.

The Braves evened the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first. Tyler Pastornicky and Jason Heyward led off with singles, and Pastornicky took third when Freddie Freeman hit a long fly to center. Justin Upton drove home the run when he fisted an inside pitch into right field for a single.

Atlanta scored twice with two outs in the third to take a 3-1 lead. Chris Johnson hit an RBI double down the left field line and Gerald Laird followed with a run-scoring single to center.

The Mets made it 3-2 when Wright led off the fourth with a homer, his 11th. New York then loaded the bases but failed to score. The Braves ended the inning by turning a double play on a ball that Quintanilla hit sharply to the mound. Minor threw home for the force, and Laird fired to first to complete the double play.

New York tied the score when Brown led off the fifth with his first career pinch-homer. Brown was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday when pitcher Scott Atchison went on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right groin.

The Mets won three of the five games to hand the Braves their first home series loss. The season series between the two clubs is even at 5-5.

"It was a great week," Collins said. "We came in here and played well against a good team."

NOTES: Atlanta started Pastornicky at second base and gave Dan Uggla a rest. Pastornicky batted leadoff, the sixth different player to hit there for the Braves this season. Pastornicky was recalled Tuesday as a roster replacement when C/INF Evan Gattis went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique. ... On Wednesday, the Mets returned RHP Zack Wheeler to minor leagues, since he was officially the 26th player on the roster for Tuesday's doubleheader. However, Wheeler will be recalled to start Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox. Collins said the club would stick with a six-man rotation through the All-Star break.
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