Yoenis Cespedes' slam, 5 RBIs send New York Mets past Atlanta Braves

By Stan Awtrey, The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 12, 2016 at 12:22 AM
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ATLANTA -- Slugger Yoenis Cespedes seems to have picked the opportune moment to get hot at the plate.

Cespedes clubbed his 30th home run, a long grand slam, and drove in five runs, to help the New York Mets to a 10-3 win over the Atlanta Braves Sunday in their final appearance at Turner Field.

"If he's going to get hot, this is a good time," said Mets manager Terry Collins, whose team is in the middle of the wild-card race. "This is a big stretch for us."

Cespedes came to the plate with the bases loaded in the second inning and hit the second pitch he saw from Atlanta starter Williams Perez deep into the left field stands for his second grand slam this season and fourth of his career.

The blast pushed Cespedes to the 30-home run level for the second straight season -- he had a combined 35 with the Tigers and Mets in 2015. The last Mets player to hit 30 homers in a season was Lucas Duda in 2014.

"He wants to win. I'll say that," Collins said "This guy wants to win. Like today, I went to him (in the eighth inning) and tried to get him out and he said, 'No, I going to stay in.' He's putting it all on the line. I tip my hat to him."

Since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 19, Cespedes is batting .308 with eight homers and 19 RBIs and the Mets are 15-5.

The beneficiary of the run support was right-hander Seth Lugo (4-2), who won his fourth straight start. Lugo avoided major difficulty in the fourth inning when he got out of a bases-loaded mess with only one run scoring. He pitched seven innings and allowed two runs on six hits, one walk and five strikeouts in his first career appearance against Atlanta.

"I think this guy has a feel for pitching," Collins said. "He knows what he wants to do, he knows what he needs to do, he knows how to get a ground ball. It's helped him get out of some trouble. Pitchers need to be able to that. They need to learn it. Seth Lugo has skill for it."

Lugo didn't get alarmed or change his plan when he got in trouble in the fourth inning.

"I gave up a few hits and thought they were all good pitches that found holes," Lugo said. "I just told myself not to do more than I was doing, they were all quality pitches and I wanted to keep making those pitches and one of them was bound to find one of our players. I just had to keep doing what I was doing."

Atlanta manager Brian Snitker was impressed with Lugo's performance.

"If you look at his numbers in Triple-A, they're not that good, but up here the guy is reinventing himself or something. He was tough. Had a changeup going, he kicked the velocity up when he needed to, elevate at will. He's been pitching pretty good."

Perez (2-3) left with a right triceps impingement after allowing the Cespides home run. The right-hander pitched 2 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on four hits and one walk. The Atlanta trainer was summoned to the mound and minutes later Perez walked to the dugout. He spent time on the disabled list earlier this season with a strained rotator cuff.

"We'll have him looked at tomorrow because he just wasn't right," Snitker said.

The Mets pounded out 11 hits, three of them from shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. They batted around in the fifth inning and scored four times, one of the coming in to score on Lugo's sacrifice fly, which produced his first career RBI.

New York first baseman James Loney added a solo homer, his seventh.

The Braves' offense was led by first baseman Freddie Freeman. He walked in the first inning to extend his streak of reaching base to 33 straight games and added an RBI single in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to a season-long 17 games.

Atlanta's Brandon Synder added a solo pinch-hit homer, his third overall and second pinch-hit homer this season.

Atlanta scored once and loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning against reliever Logan Verrett. Left-hander Josh Edgin came in and induced Jace Peterson into a game-ending double play.

The Mets had many poor performances at Turner field -- going 67-106 against the Braves. But the Mets finished by winning 11 of their final 14 games at Turner Field.

NOTES: New York INF Gavin Cecchini made his major league debut as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and struck out. ... The Braves placed C A.J. Pierzynski on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. The veteran went on the DL with the identical injury on Aug. 17. To add depth and an additional left-handed bat off the bench, the Braves recalled C Blake Lalli from Triple-A Gwinnett. Lalli last played in the major leagues in 2013 and was hitting .256 in 109 games for the G-Braves. ... The Braves continue their homestand with a three-game set against Miami that starts on Monday. Atlanta will send RHP Mike Folytnewicz (8-5, 4.16 ERA) against Miami RHP Andrew Cashner (5-11, 4.77 ERA). New York starts a three-game road series against Washington on Monday. RHP Rafael Montero (0-0, 4.63 ERA) starts the opener for the Mets against Washington's RHP Mat Latos (7-2, 4.74 ERA).

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