ATLANTA -- A.J. Pierzynski finished a home run shy of the cycle and ignited the two-run sixth-inning that enabled the Braves to overcome the two solo home runs Williams Perez surrendered during Saturday night's 6-4 win over the Mets at Turner Field.
Pierzynski opened the sixth inning by bouncing an opposite-field double past third base. After Andrelton Simmons and Eury Perez followed with consecutive singles, Pedro Ciriaco provided a go-ahead sacrifice fly that scored Pierzynski only after Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud dropped the ball and injured his left elbow while applying the tag on Pierzynski's knee.
"There was a lot of running around and energy expending, but it's good because we won and that's the biggest thing," Pierzynski said.
The Mets tallied four hits during a two-run first inning and benefited from the solo home runs Curtis Granderson and d'Arnaud hit off Perez in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively. But New York's bullpen was not able to pick up starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who allowed four runs -- three earned -- while throwing 88 pitches over four innings.
"From pitch one I was out there battling," Syndergaard said. "[I] got my pitch count up way too early. Just another frustrating outing. Similar to the one against San Francisco, I don't think they hit the ball too hard off me. Just have to have a short-term memory after that and continue to do what I've been doing."
With victories in the first two games of this three-game set, the Braves claimed their first series victory since May 24 and moved within 2 games of the first-place Nationals in the National League East.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The veteran catalyst: Pierzynski began his three-hit night in the second inning with a one-out triple that put him in position to score when Simmons began his four-hit night with an RBI single. The 38-year-old catcher singled and scored in the two-run fourth that included Eury Perez notching his first career RBI on an infield single. After Pierzynski began the sixth by sneaking his double down the line, the Braves gained more fortune when Simmons blooped a single to shallow right and Eury Perez chopped an infield single off the plate. More >
Middle infield "defense": For the second time in as many days, middle infield defense proved costly for the Mets. During the third inning with no outs, Braves second baseman Jace Peterson attempted to steal second base. Peterson -- who was 7-for-14 in stolen base attempts before Saturday's game -- had no problem being safe on this occasion, as neither New York middle infielder moved to cover the bag and receive d'Arnaud's throw. With the ball out in center field, Peterson had no problem jogging to third base and later scoring on Cameron Maybin's RBI groundout to second base to tie the game.
"[Second baseman Dilson Herrera] knew he was supposed to cover, he just had a lapse," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You have to understand that it's part of the growing process. There's a lot of action, the game is fast, action's fast here and it's one of those things we try to teach -- the speed of the game up here. And as you're learning it you're trying to focus and everything else... there are a lot of things going on in your mind, and you have to take a second and get it organized."
Perez holds steady: Williams Perez looked like he was in trouble when he needed 30 pitches to complete the first inning. But the Braves right-hander then proceeded to retire 13 of the next 14 batters he faced before surrendering Granderson's solo shot in the fifth. d'Arnaud's leadoff homer in the sixth inning served as the final damage incurred by the starter, who entered the fifth inning having allowed just two homers over the previous 43 1/3 innings he had completed this season.
"He settled down [after the first inning], but he wasn't the same Perez," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He hit two batters and his command wasn't as good as we've seen it."
"That's the kind of ballclub we have. Everybody in the lineup makes contact. We give ourselves a chance and good things happen." -- Simmons, after he, Pierzynski and Eury Perez combined to go 9-for-12 while manning the 6-7-8 spots in Atlanta's batting order
"We have to come out [Sunday] ready to play. I don't think we need to panic. We just have to go out and play, play better than we did today. We can't make the mental mistakes, we can't make the physical mistakes. We have to go out there and get ourselves ready to play nine innings, play hard and we'll deal with the injuries and everything else another day." -- Collins, on the importance of avoiding a sweep at Turner Field
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Simmons now has three career four-hit games, and two of them have been recorded over the past week against the Mets.
Mets catcher d'Arnaud left the game with an elbow injury after a collision at the plate with Braves catcher Pierzynski in the sixth inning. After X-rays during the game came back negative, it was determined that he hyperextended his elbow and is day to day. More >
REPLAY REVIEW The Mets proved successful with their challenge that Peterson came off the bag after he was originally ruled safe while attempting to steal third base in the sixth inning. Third-base umpire Jerry Layne's ruling was reversed after a review that lasted 1:29.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets:Matt Harvey will take the mound on Sunday for the finale of this three-game series. In Harvey's one other start at Turner Field (on June 18, 2013), he won a 4-3 game and struck out 13 Atlanta hitters in the process. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. ET.
Braves: Atlanta will counter with Julio Teheran, who has struggled to rekindle the success he had during his previous two Major League seasons. Teheran has posted a 5.68 ERA in the 12 starts he has made since limiting the Mets to one run over six innings on April 11.