Major Leagues: Mets 3, Braves 1: Chipper honored
Published 12:00 am Friday, September 28, 2012
ATLANTA — Lucas Duda and Jonathon Niese stole some of the spotlight on Chipper Jones’ big night.
Duda’s three-run homer in the seventh inning gave New York the lead, Niese pitched seven strong innings for his third straight win and the Mets beat Tim Hudson and the Braves 3-1 on Friday night.
Niese outpitched Hudson on a special night. A sellout crowd of 51,910 packed Turner Field for a pregame tribute to Jones.
Niese wasn’t distracted.
“It was a special night for Chip,” Niese said. “It couldn’t go to a more deserving guy. He plays the game the right way. All the respect, all the accolades are deserved.
“It’s always an honor to be able to face a player like that, a future Hall of Famer. To do it tonight in front of all those people was pretty special.”
Niese (13-9) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings for his third straight win.
“When I walk off the mound and our team has a chance to win, then that’s satisfaction,” Niese said.
The Braves, who have wrapped up at least a wild-card berth, wasted an opportunity to gain ground in the NL East. Atlanta remained four games behind the first-place Nationals, who lost 12-2 to St. Louis.
“You feel like when Huddy gives you the performance he gave you that you have a chance, but we didn’t score runs,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Jones, starting his final regular-season home series before retiring, was 0 for 4 with four groundouts. Jones was honored by the Braves in a pregame ceremony that included former Atlanta manager Bobby Cox and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.
Jones said the tribute, which included video messages from former teammates and such celebrities as Michael Jordan between innings, was overwhelming.
“I think I had a tear planted in the corner of my eye pretty much the whole night,” Jones said.
“It was a little overwhelming, too overwhelming. … There’s no real way to prepare that that.”
Jones said he hopes the focus returns to baseball for the last two games of the series.
“Everybody showed me such a great day,” Jones said. “I wish I had played better. I wish we had played better.
“I’m glad it’s over. … I just want to concentrate on baseball. All the attention needs to take a backseat so we can focus on the job at hand.”
Freddie Freeman gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead with his 23rd homer in the fourth.
East Rowan graduate and Rowan Legion star Bobby Parnell pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
Hudson (16-7) gave up only three hits in six scoreless innings before Daniel Murphy led off the seventh with a double to left field. Murphy advanced to third when Jason Heyward made a diving catch on David Wright’s sinking liner in right.
Following an intentional walk to Ike Davis, Hudson struck out Scott Hairston before giving up Duda’s 15th homer on a 3-2 pitch.
“His credentials are unbelievable,” Duda said of Hudson. “I’m happy to do anything I can.
“I was kind of nervous, two strikes. I just tried to make contact, get the ball up and it went out of the park.”