ATLANTA -- A few weeks ago, their playoff hopes dangling by a thread, the Mets might have shuddered at the thought of a two-run deficit in the eighth inning of a critical -- they're all critical at this point -- game.
Not anymore. Now fully in control of their own destiny in the National League Wild Card race, the Mets parlayed three walks, a hit batsman and a fielding error into a four-run rally in the eighth inning Friday, stealing their sixth straight win, a 6-4 victory over the Braves at Turner Field.
The victory helped the Mets retain a half-game lead over the Cardinals, who beat the Brewers, for the NL's second Wild Card spot. It also moved the Mets back to a season-high nine games over .500 for the first time since July 7. The Mets remained a half-game behind the Giants, who won in Arizona, for the NL's top Wild Card spot.
"We're playing good baseball," said Mets infielder Kelly Johnson. "As long as we're healthy, our lineup is too good to sit still. Plus, guys have been hot at the right time."
Trailing all evening, the Mets went ahead for the first time on Johnson's RBI double in the eighth. Ten Mets came to the plate in the inning, turning a two-run deficit into a two-run lead.
That spoiled the early efforts of Braves starter Julio Teheran, who extended his scoreless-innings streak against the Mets to 29 before serving up Curtis Granderson's two-run homer in the sixth. Teheran outpitched Mets rookie Robert Gsellman, who gave up four runs -- including a booming Matt Kemp solo homer and a Nick Markakis two-run single -- in five innings.
"[We] just couldn't complete the drill or whatever," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "[Teheran] threw great, we had the good inning and that's usually a game we win. That happens."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Never say die: Down to their final six outs, the Mets took advantage of two Mauricio Cabrera walks and a Dansby Swanson fielding error to load the bases with no outs in the eighth. Then came the assault. After Yoenis Cespedes brought the Mets within a run of the lead on a sacrifice fly, Granderson tied things with an RBI single and Johnson untied them with a run-scoring double.
"Right now, some things are falling our way," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "There's no question about it. There's no doubt about it. But that's what you've got to have. We played a lot of games this year when things weren't going our way. So we'll take them as they're coming." More >
Quite a run: Teheran encountered trouble in the first when he walked Granderson to load the bases with one out. But even after falling behind 3-1 to Wilmer Flores, the right-hander remained poised and escaped the jam unscathed by inducing a double play. Teheran proceeded to retire 14 of the next 15 batters he faced before a single by Cespedes grazed Teheran's forearm in the sixth and Granderson snapped his scoreless-innings streak vs. New York in the ensuing at-bat. Teheran exited the contest after throwing 23 pitches in the inning and 97 for the game, but he said the comebacker didn't hamper him and he should be able to make his next start.
"I could have [continued] if I needed to, but I knew I threw a lot of pitches and I gave up two runs," Teheran said. "I feel good. If I made a mistake, I don't think it was because I got hit. I think it was just because I made a mistake. It wasn't the pitch I wanted to throw in that location. Whenever you make a mistake, you pay, especially with those guys. They've got a pretty good lineup."
Four in a row: Granderson's sixth-inning homer off Teheran was the outfielder's fourth in his last four games. In his last five games, Granderson has nine RBIs, though his season total of 48 would be the fewest ever for a Major Leaguer with at least 26 homers.
"Just a little bit of luck," said Granderson, who reached base safely in all four of his plate appearances. "Sometimes you happen to connect on some balls squarely and they get a chance to drive out of the ballpark. Sometimes you don't. Right now, they happen to be going out of the ballpark."
Sixth inning squandered: Kemp ignited the Braves' offense when he led off the bottom of the second with a homer, his sixth through his first 142 at-bats with Atlanta and his third over his past seven games. And after a three-run fifth gave the Braves a 4-0 edge, they appeared ready to pad their lead when they put runners on the corners with no outs in the sixth. But Atlanta couldn't capitalize on the opportunity. Pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski struck out before Ender Inciarte grounded into an inning-ending double play that thwarted the scoring chance.
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Kemp homered and recorded a stolen base in the same game for the 19th time in his career, but first since Aug. 3, 2014. He swiped second base in the seventh inning to record his first stolen base since Sept. 25, 2015.
Swanson has been charged with five errors through his first 57 chances at the big league level. The top prospect committed 11 errors in 506 chances with Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Mississippi this year. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: The Mets pushed Bartolo Colon up a day in their rotation to accommodate Seth Lugo, who is nursing a blister on one of his fingers. Colon will face the Braves in a 7:10 p.m. ET game at Turner Field on Saturday, looking for his team-high 14th victory. He won at least 14 in each of his first two seasons with the Mets.
Braves: Atlanta will counter with John Gant, who will be making his second start since coming back from an oblique injury. The right-hander was traded from the Mets to the Braves in 2015 and delivered his most impressive start of this season in New York on June 17, when he allowed one run across 6 2/3 innings for his first career win.