PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores finished a triple short of the cycle Friday and made a run-saving play on defense, continuing his strong month in a 13-2 victory against the Braves at Tradition Field.
Flores' three-run homer off Braves reliever Carlos Fisher opened up an 11-run, third-inning lead for the Mets, who also parlayed his first-inning single and second-inning double into run-scoring rallies. Essentially unchallenged for the Mets' starting shortstop job, Flores has committed two defensive errors in seven games, but is batting .455 with four extra-base hits and five RBIs.
After the Braves loaded the bases with no outs three innings after his homer, Flores also made a diving stop to his left to start a 6-4-3 double play.
The shortstop wasn't the only one to enjoy success against Braves starter Manny Banuelos, who allowed five runs, walked two batters and recorded just two outs. Back-to-back doubles from John Mayberry Jr. and Travis d'Arnaud highlighted the early damage against Banuelos, with David Wright tacking on an RBI single against Luis Avilan in the second.
The Braves received their strongest offensive effort from shortstop Phil Gosselin, who finished 2-for-3 with an RBI. Jace Peterson also reached base twice for the Braves, who brought a split squad to Port St. Lucie and kept most of their big league hitters back in Lake Buena Vista.
Enjoying every bit of the 11-run lead his hitters afforded him, Mets starter Jon Niese held the Braves scoreless over 3 2/3 innings, striking out three. The left-hander worked in particular on refining his offspeed offerings, including his changeup and curveball.
"It's a feel pitch," Niese said of the curve. "It's all about my release point. Once I get under the lights, it will be there."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.