Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – Jeff Francoeur’s leadoff home run in the ninth inning was the game-winning blow and lifted New York to a 3-2 win over Atlanta in the middle meeting of a three-game set.
The former Braves outfielder lined an 0-1 offering from Billy Wagner the opposite way to right field to snap a 2-2 tie and halt the Mets two-game slide.
“That’s the best swing I’ve taken in a long time,” said Francoeur, who was mired in a 1-for-23 rut before the home run. “Usually, I can hide my emotions pretty good when I’m out there but I had to let out a little smile. The guys in the dugout pounded me pretty good, that was exciting.”
Manny Acosta (2-1), another former Atlanta farmhand, earned the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Francisco Rodriguez retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the victory and earn his 23rd save of the season.
Wagner (5-2) suffered the loss in his lone inning of work for the Braves, who have dropped three out of four and saw their lead in the NL East over Philadelphia trimmed to two games. The Phillies downed Florida, 6-1, earlier Tuesday.
“Any loss is tough, but it was a good ballgame,” said Wagner. “It was going to come down to one hit and who could get that one run across and they got it. They had been struggling just as bad as we were to get that run. It was a good pitch. He’s a pull hitter and he hit the ball to the opposite field so you just tip your hat.”
Kyle Farnsworth took over on the mound for the Braves in the seventh and walked Francoeur to start the inning. Luis Castillo dropped down a bunt to push Francoeur into scoring position and he came plateward to tie the game at 2-2 on Chris Carter’s pinch-hit single.
The home side put runners at first and second with one out in their half but Acosta induced pinch-hitter Troy Glaus to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Alex Gonzalez was hit by a pitch with one out in the second inning, moved to third base on a Rick Ankiel single and scored the game’s first run on Melky Cabrera’s fielder’s choice.
Castillo opened the third with a bunt single, advanced to second base on an R.A.Dickey sacrifice bunt and scored when Jose Reyes laced a double the other way to left field.
The New York second baseman doubled to begin the fifth and advanced on another Dickey sacrifice but remained there when Reyes and Angel Pagan grounded out to end the frame. The Braves loaded the bases with two outs in the home half but could not break the deadlock as Eric Hinske went down swinging.
The Braves took a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Cabrera tripled in Ankiel, who had reached on a fielder’s choice. However, the home team could not add on as pinch-hitter Matt Diaz popped out and Omar Infante tapped back to the mound.
Atlanta starter Derek Lowe allowed a single run on six hits while striking out three and not walking a batter over six innings, while Dickey yielded two runs on five hits while walking four and fanning two over his six frames.
Jonny Venters stranded a pair of runners in the eighth before turning the game over to Wagner in the ninth.
Chipper Jones walked three times to move past Hank Aaron into 25th place all- time with 1,403 bases on balls…The last time Lowe did not walk a batter was also against the Mets on September 21 of last season. He is 3-5 in 16 games, nine starts, against the Mets…New York won for just the sixth time in its last 22 road games…The Mets have allowed the first run in 11 of their last 13 games away from home…New York is just 11-36 when scoring three runs or less…The Braves second-inning run snapped Dickey’s 18-inning scoreless streak…Pagan extended his hitting streak to eight games…New York leads the season series, 6-4…Glaus turned 34 on Tuesday.