Inciarte sprints lift Braves over Mets 4-3, 4th straight win
NEW YORK (AP) Ender Inciarte sprinted to third when Curtis Granderson lazily threw the ball to the infield after an eighth-inning lineout. Then he dashed home with the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch that bounced only 10 feet from home plate.
And to top it off, he made a great throw that helped cut down the potential tying run in the bottom of the ninth.
''That's probably the most fun I've had in a ballgame,'' Inciarte said after the Atlanta Braves overcame a three-run deficit to beat the New York Mets 4-3 Saturday night and match their longest winning streak of the year at four.
Jeff Francoeur and Tyler Flowers hit solo shots to start the comeback for the Braves, who have just 31 home runs this season - 26 fewer than any other big league team.
With the score 3-all, Inciarte sliced an opposite-field double to left against Addison Reed (1-1) leading off the eighth, sliding into second ahead of Michael Conforto's throw. Freddie Freeman was intentionally walked and Francoeur hit a 267-foot liner to Granderson in right. Granderson looked back Freeman and looped a throw to second, prompting Inciarte to take off for third.
''I've been timing a lot of outfielders,'' Inciarte said. ''When I saw him taking that nice and easy throw, I was going right away.''
Granderson wasn't blaming himself.
''I could possibly have made a harder throw. Might have changed the situation,'' he said. ''But you never know - he's a speedy guy. He might have still tried to be aggressive in that situation.''
Nick Markakis struck out and, with Flowers at the plate, Reed bounced a 1-0 slider that catcher Rene Rivera blocked. Reed bounced another slider on the next pitch that went between Rivera's legs to the back of the dirt circling the plate. Rivera retrieved the ball and lunged toward the plate, and the ball came loose as Inciarte slid across.
''I probably won't go seven out of 10 times with that one,'' Inciarte said, ''but today I had high energy, so I was going.''
In the dugout, Braves players cheered about as much as they have all season. Atlanta is 13-18 under interim manager Brian Snitker after starting 8-28 under Fredi Gonzalez.
''Just unbelievable instincts. You can't teach something like that,'' Snitker said. ''That's probably two of the greatest baserunning moves I've seen in my 40 years.''
Wilmer Flores reached leading off the New York ninth when shortstop Erick Aybar allowed his grounder to bounce off an arm for an error. James Loney doubled on two hops to the wall in left-center, and Inciarte picked up the ball on the warning track and threw to Aybar, who made a one-hop throw to the plate to get Flores. Ty Kelly flied out to deep center, Loney advanced on a wild pitch, and Alejandro De Aza was hit by a pitch. Granderson ended the game by taking a called third strike.
''The credit goes to Aybar,'' Inciarte said. ''I put a good throw to him, but he threw a bullet to home plate.''
Dario Alvarez (1-0), claimed off waivers from the Mets last month, got two outs for his second big league win. Jim Johnson finished for his first save this year.
In a matchup of rookie starters, New York's Steve Matz stretched his winless streak to four outings following a seven-start winning streak, allowing two runs and four hits in six innings. Atlanta's Aaron Blair, winless in 10 big league starts, gave up three runs and five hits in six innings.
Yoenis Cespedes homered on a curveball in the third inning and Flores on a fastball in the fourth, both clearing the original Great Wall of Flushing in left. Loney followed with his first triple since 2011 and scored on Rivera's sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead.
Atlanta closed to 3-2 against Matz on Chase d'Arnaud's two-out RBI single in the fifth and Francoeur's third home run in the sixth, a drive off the facing of the second deck in left. Flowers homered leading off the seventh on Jim Henderson's first pitch.
Then came the drama.
''Hopefully,'' Inciarte said, ''today is going to be the start of huge things for the team.''
Braves bench coach Terry Pendleton was ejected in the fifth inning when he argued after d'Arnaud was picked off at first by Matz and caught stealing second.
Braves: 3B Adonis Garcia did not start for the second straight day after coming out of Thursday's game because of a sore left ankle. ... INF Gordon Beckham, who hasn't played since June 1 because of a strained left hamstring, is to start a rehab assignment soon. ... RHP Mike Foltynewicz (sore right elbow) was to throw to hitters this weekend.
RHP Jacob deGrom (3-3) is to start Sunday's series finale for the Mets and RHP Julio Teheran (2-7) goes for the Braves.