Mets build on lead, top Braves for 6th straight

Mets build on lead, top Braves for 6th straight

ATLANTA -- The streaking Mets rallied once again Saturday, pulling past the Braves in a two-run ninth inning that gave New York its sixth straight win, 6-4, and pushed the Mets' lead in the National League East to 9 1/2 games over the fading Nationals. Second baseman Kelly Johnson knocked in the go-ahead run with a single to right, and hot-hitting center fielder Yoenis Cespedes -- who blasted another home run in the eighth -- added on a ninth-inning insurance run with a fielder's choice grounder.

"Right now," Mets manager Terry Collins said, "things are going pretty smoothly for us."

The Braves tied the score, 4-4, with a three-run, pinch-hit home run from Adonis Garcia in the bottom of the eighth off Mets reliever Tyler Clippard. That blast spoiled a stellar outing from New York starter Noah Syndergaard, who went seven innings, gave up only two hits and a run and struck out eight.

But the Mets rallied back in the ninth against a couple of Atlanta relievers. Catcher Travis d'Arnaud started things with a double against Arodys Vizcaino -- one of three hits on the night for d'Arnaud -- Johnson followed with the winning RBI, and Cespdes drove in Johnson with a grounder to short.

"For me, in terms of where I'm at in my career," Johnson said, "anything you can contribute to get to a World Series is what it's all about."

In the top of the eighth, Cespedes slammed another home run, his 16th in 39 games with the Mets since being obtained in a trade with Detroit. Collins said after the game that he expects to sit the slugger for Sunday afternoon's series finale.

On fire: Catcher d'Arnaud -- who was hitting .344 over his last 17 games, with six doubles and five homers -- couldn't have come up bigger in the ninth. He crunched an 0-2 pitch over Atlanta right fielder Nick Markakis' head for a ground-rule double to start the ninth, setting up Johnson for his game-winning single. The catcher also singled in the second and had a run-scoring single in the sixth. He's now hitting .296 on the season.

d'Arnaud's RBI single

Garcia resets game: Coming in to pinch-hit with two on and one out in the bottom of the eighth, Garcia launched the first pitch he saw from Mets reliever Clippard into the left-field seats for a three-run homer to tie the game, 4-4. The Braves got their first baserunner since the first inning when Jace Peterson led off the eighth with a walk. One out later, Michael Bourn singled to set the stage for Garcia, who remained in the game to play third base.

Syndergaard sensational: In his first start since Aug. 30, Syndergaard was all business from the start. He walked Atlanta leadoff man Markakis to start the first, but all seven pitches he threw to him were 90 mph or better, with three of them touching 100 mph. The two hits he allowed were both of the bloop variety -- a single by Freddie Freeman that fell into right field in the first and drove in a run, and a soft flare to left that Peterson tried to turn into a double in the fifth. Peterson was called out at second.

Syndergaard's dominant outing

Atlanta turns two four times: The Braves bailed starter Williams Perez out of four of his six innings with inning-ending double plays. Each time, the Mets had runners on first and third. Andrelton Simmons started a 6-4-3 double play to end the second and fourth innings, Peterson began a 4-6-3 double play to end the third and Perez started a 1-6-3 double play to end the sixth. More >

Simmons' stellar defense

"He's got that cape now. He's feeling like Superman right now. He's getting big hits. He's a good player, good hitter, and he's hot right now." -- Simmons, on Cesedes

"We got to go out tomorrow and just start winning, until it's over. One thing you can't do is look too far down the road." -- Collins

Atlanta's Peterson led off the Braves' half of the fifth with a bloop single down the left field line. The Mets' Michael Conforto sped over to the line to pick up the slow roller and fired to second, where second baseman Johnson tagged Peterson trying to stretch the hit into a double. The Braves challenged the call but, after a review of 1 minute and 43 seconds, the call stood.

Conforto nabs Peterson

The Mets challenged a call in the ninth. New York pinch-hitter Juan Lagares laid a bunt down the third-base line and was nipped at first by Garcia's throw. The call was confirmed after a 58-second review.

Garcia throws out Lagares

Mets: Lefty Jon Niese (8-10, 4.36 ERA) will start the last game of the year in Atlanta for New York on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. In seven career starts at Turner Field, he's 3-2 with a 4.54 ERA. Niese has an inauspicious streak going; he's allowed five or more runs in an inning in each of his last three starts, the first time that's happened since Niese did it with the Mets in 2010.

Braves: Righty Ryan Weber (0-1, 3.00 ERA) will get the ball to make his second Major League start. Weber took the loss in his Major League debut in Philadelphia on Sept. 8, but he went six innings and allowed two runs on four hits and struck out two.

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John Donovan is a contributor to Aimee Sachs is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.