Ender's game: Inciarte's intensity lifts Braves

Ender's game: Inciarte's intensity lifts Braves

NEW YORK -- Though the first few months of the season have been rough on the Braves, everything seemed to go right on Saturday as Ender Inciarte displayed awareness, bravery and an intense will to win during a memorable trip around the bases that enabled Atlanta to extend its winning streak to four games with a 4-3 victory over the Mets at Citi Field.

"That was the most fun I've had in a ballgame," Inciarte said. "It was pretty awesome. So it was good that we got that win."

Starter Aaron Blair completed six innings for the first time since April 29 and Jeff Francoeur and Tyler Flowers teamed up to give the Braves just their seventh multihomer game of the season, but the final 15 minutes of this game were dictated by Inciarte, who essentially willed himself to score the decisive run and then played a part in denying the Mets from scoring what would have been a tying run in the ninth inning.

"I like to scream and bring that energy to every game," Inciarte said. "So hopefully, today is going to be the start of huge things for the team."

After hustling to second base with a leadoff double in the eighth inning, Inciarte caught everybody off guard when he opted to race to third after Francoeur hit a liner to right field that appeared too shallow to advance a runner. But Inciarte alertly read the body language of right fielder Curtis Granderson and took off as Granderson casually threw the ball back toward the infield.

"That was huge," Francoeur said. "I lined out and kind of put my head down. Then I turned around, and all of a sudden, I see him tagging and I was like, 'What? Did I miss something? That's heads-up baserunning."

Despite the fact that it still ended up being a bang-bang play at third base, Granderson questioned whether a stronger throw would have prevented Inciarte from advancing.

"I possibly could have made a harder throw and that could have changed the situation, but you never know, he's a speedy guy, and he might still have tried to be aggressive in that situation," Granderson said.

When Inciarte reached third, he pumped his fist as he yelled toward his teammates in the dugout. Moments later he raced home with what would be the winning run on an Addison Reed wild pitch that ended up just a few feet behind catcher Rene Rivera, who was in position to make the tag before Inciarte's slide dislodged the ball.

"I probably wouldn't go seven out of 10 times with that [wild pitch], but today I had high energy," Inciarte said.

Manager Brian Snitker said Inciarte "made two of the gutsiest, greatest baserunning plays I've ever seen."

"You can't hesitate there," Snitker said. "It was almost like he was hunting for that ball to get away there."

Inciarte then capped the most enthusiastic performance made by a Braves player this season when he fielded James Loney's double with no outs in the ninth and made a strong throw to Erick Aybar, who then denied Wilmer Flores' attempt to score and make the score 4-4.

Braves nab Flores at the plate

"When Ender scored, that was the most excitement I've seen in our dugout all year," Francoeur said. "Everybody was fired up. It was fun. You're playing up here in front of 45,000, and it felt great."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.