Brandon Nimmo homers twice as Mets hang on to take series-opener against powerhouse Braves

ATLANTA — Julio Teheran didn’t exactly have the Atlanta homecoming that the Mets hoped he would have. The right-hander was bailed out after his disastrous four-run third inning by two home runs from Brandon Nimmo and a huge, go-ahead shot by DJ Stewart.

Stewart’s two-run homer in the eighth inning helped the Mets defeat the Atlanta Braves 8-7 in the first game of a four-game series on Monday night at Truist Park.

With the two NL East rivals knotted at 5-5, Stewart got a hanging curveball from right-hander Pierce Johnson (1-0) and sent it 425 feet to center field. This came after he went hitless in his first five games. Stewart, the DH who made the team just 24 hours before the season began, needed that bomb as much as his team did.

It was the fourth win for the Mets (4-6) in their last five games. Their top hitters have finally come to life with Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil homering to key three of those four wins.

Teheran, who spent nine seasons pitching for the Braves (6-3), was on a short leash Monday night. He last pitched in spring training a few weeks ago before opting out of his contract with the Baltimore Orioles. He threw a bullpen over the weekend in Cincinnati and warmed up in the bullpen during a game as well, but the Mets still felt it best to play it safe and put him on a pitch count.

Teheran pitched around singles in the first and second innings before unraveling in the third. Jarred Kelenic, a former first-round pick by the Mets, walked to lead off the inning. Teheran walked Ronald Acuña Jr., then gave up a two-run double to Ozzie Albies.

The veteran right-hander got the next two hitters out and was almost out of trouble, but then came red-hot Marcell Ozuna. He launched a belt-high sinker into center field for his fifth home run of the season.

The Braves went up 4-0.

Teheran allowed two more singles before right-hander Reed Garrett relieved him. Garrett struck out five in 2 1/3 crucial innings.

The total damage for Teheran: Four earned runs on six hits, two walks and three strikeouts in just 2 2/3 innings.

The Mets pushed a run across in the third and Nimmo countered with a three-run shot off right-hander Charlie Morton (four earned runs on five hits, four strikeouts and five walks over 5 2/3 innings).

Right-hander Cole Sulser, who was called up earlier in the day to provide the Mets a rested bullpen arm, gave up an RBI double to former Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud in the sixth, only for Nimmo to tie the game again with another homer. It was a 420-foot bomb to straightaway center that came off of left-hander A.J. Minter. It was the sixth multi-homer game for the outfielder.

Nimmo didn’t stop there. After Stewart’s home run, Johnson walked Jeff McNeil and Tyrone Taylor legged out an infield single. Atlanta went to the bullpen for Jesse Chavez, who gave up an RBI single to Nimmo to bring his RBI total to five on the day.

Jake Diekman was awarded the win (1-0) with a scoreless relief inning. He faced one batter in the bottom of the eighth before being replaced by Drew Smith. It was an eventful inning for Smith, who collided with a television camera and nearly slid into the camera well while trying to catch a foul pop-up and walked in a run. However, he got out of the inning with the Mets still up by two.

On for the save opportunity, right-hander Jorge Lopez gave up a run in the ninth to make things interesting. With two outs, d’Arnaud gave a ball a ride to the right field warning track but Starling Marte caught it for the out. Lopez recorded the save (one).

It wasn’t exactly how they drew it up, but it was a solid win against a tough opponent on a day when the bullpen was depleted and pitching was a challenge.