Cervelli sparks Braves to 9-5 win over Mets in Atlanta debut
By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Newly signed Francisco Cervelli had three hits and three RBIs in his Atlanta debut, and the Braves beat the New York Mets 9-5 on Saturday night for their seventh straight victory.
Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, and Billy Hamilton dashed home with another run on the play thanks to a mental lapse by Mets left fielder J.D. Davis.
Freddie Freeman launched his career-high 35th home run in the ninth. Freeman, who began the day leading the majors in RBIs, increased his season total to 105.
Ozzie Albies and Josh Donaldson also went deep for the NL East leaders, each connecting on a solo shot in the third off starter Zack Wheeler. Atlanta improved to 10-5 this year against the Mets, who remained two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card.
Rookie slugger Pete Alonso matched a Mets record with his 41st home run, a three-run shot that put New York ahead 5-4 in the fifth after trailing 4-0. But third baseman Todd Frazier was unable to snag Cervelli’s hard one-hopper in the sixth, a two-base error that led to Cervelli scoring the tying run on Rafael Ortega’s single.
After recovering from yet another concussion, Cervelli played his first major league game since May 25. He stroked a two-run double into the left field corner on the second pitch he saw for a 2-0 lead in the second. He singled his next time up and added an RBI double to deep center in the ninth.
The veteran catcher, released Thursday by Pittsburgh, signed with the Braves earlier Saturday to help fill in with Brian McCann on the injured list.
Josh Tomlin (2-1) tossed two scoreless innings for the win.
Ortega sparked Atlanta’s two-out rally in the eighth with a single against Brad Brach (4-4) that went off the glove of a leaping Jeff McNeil at second base. The speedy Hamilton, another Braves newcomer, followed with a pinch-hit single and scored from third when Davis held the ball after Acuña’s single and then lobbed it back to the infield, drawing boos from the crowd of 38,300.
Atlanta starter Max Fried, handed a 4-0 lead and looking for his 15th win, allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings.
Wilson Ramos extended his hitting streak to 18 games for the Mets, the longest active streak in the majors.
Alonso has 100 RBIs, making him the first Mets player to reach the plateau since David Wright had 103 in 2010. Alonso also became the first rookie to tie his team’s home run record since Ralph Kiner did it for the Pirates with 23 in 1946, according to STATS. Todd Hundley (1996) and Carlos Beltran (2006) also hit 41 home runs in a season for the Mets.
Braves: Dansby Swanson (bruised right foot) was scheduled to play shortstop in his third rehab game at Class A Rome. … LF-3B Austin Riley (right knee sprain) was set to play left field for the first time on his rehab assignment at Rome.
Mets: McNeil, the NL batting leader, was reinstated from the injured list. He missed 10 days with a strained left hamstring and returned on the first day he was eligible to come off the IL. With the score tied, he delivered a pinch-hit double on the first pitch he saw leading off the seventh but was thrown out trying to advance to third on a grounder to shortstop. McNeil remained in the game and singled in the ninth. … Mets reliever Edwin Díaz, who gave up Freeman’s homer, exited with an apparent injury. He walked off with a trainer to boos. … Backup catcher Tomás Nido was placed on the seven-day injured list with a concussion and the club selected the contract of veteran catcher René Rivera from Triple-A Syracuse. Reserve outfielder Aaron Altherr was designated for assignment. … OF Brandon Nimmo (neck) had a day off on his rehab assignment at Syracuse.
LHP Dallas Keuchel (4-5, 4.14 ERA) tries to pitch the Braves to a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon. LHP Steven Matz (8-7, 4.18) goes for the Mets.
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