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Sports

Wheeler Beats Braves Again

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Atlanta Braves v New York Mets

By MIKE FITZPATRICK    AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ John Buck drove in three runs and Zack Wheeler beat the Atlanta Braves for the second time in seven major league starts, sending the New York Mets to a 7-4 victory Thursday.

Daniel Murphy and Marlon Byrd three hits apiece for the Mets, who gained a four-game series split. But the news wasn’t all good for New York: Eric Young Jr., a spark in the leadoff spot since arriving last month, was pulled with pain in his right knee.

One day after top pitcher Tim Hudson sustained a season-ending ankle injury when Young accidentally stepped on him, the NL East-leading Braves caught another tough break. This time, it was a missed call by the umpires that helped the Mets score three times in the sixth and led to the ejection of Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Wheeler (4-1) squandered a three-run lead by giving up homers to Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman. But the prized rookie allowed only four hits in six innings after throwing 31 pitches in the first. He tossed six shutout innings in Atlanta to win his big league debut June 18.

The loser in that game was left-hander Alex Wood, who was making his first career start. The second one came on Thursday _ against Wheeler once again.

Recalled from the minors to pitch in place of Paul Maholm (bruised left wrist), the 22-year-old Wood threw 90 pitches in 4 1-3 innings. With quite a funky delivery, he yielded four runs and eight hits.

David Aardsma and LaTroy Hawkins each worked a hitless inning for the Mets before Bobby Parnell closed for his 20th save in 24 tries.

Freeman’s long homer to center leading off the sixth tied it at 4, but Wheeler ended the inning with a double-play grounder and New York went right back ahead in the bottom half.

Andrew Brown, who replaced Young in left field, opened with a double against Kameron Loe (0-1) and went to third on a wild pitch. Murphy singled through a drawn-in infield to give the Mets the lead.

David Wright followed with a drive to left-center that bounced up and struck the protective railing above the wall before caroming back onto the field.

Center fielder Reed Johnson raised his arms, looking for the ground-rule double signal, but third base umpire Chad Fairchild ruled the ball in play.

Murphy scored and Wright pulled into third with an RBI triple before Gonzalez came out to argue. He took his protest to plate umpire and crew chief Jeff Kellogg before Fairchild finally tossed him.

Gonzalez headed toward the dugout but then went back at Fairchild, now standing behind third base again.

Buck added a run-scoring double with two outs to make it 7-4.

Young beat out an infield single to start a four-run third and scored on Byrd’s single. Buck hit a two-run single with two outs to put the Mets up 4-1.

Acquired from Colorado in a June 18 trade, Young was very upset Wednesday night after breaking Hudson’s right ankle when he inadvertently stepped on the pitcher at first base.

Hudson, the leader of Atlanta’s strong pitching staff, will have season-ending surgery once the swelling subsides.

Mets manager Terry Collins said Young “tweaked” his leg on the play, and one day later the speedy outfielder was removed in the fourth inning.

Uggla trimmed it to 4-3 with a two-run shot off Wheeler in the fourth. It was Uggla’s second homer in two days and 11th at Citi Field, the most by a visiting player.

Wheeler threw a fastball over Uggla’s head in the first, and the Atlanta second baseman glared out at the mound before saying something to Buck.

While giving an intentional walk in the fifth, Loe threw a pitch low and wide that went all the way to the backstop. Byrd didn’t have much of a lead off third base, though, and reacted slowly before holding up.

 NOTES: Braves OF Jason Heyward and C Brian McCann were rested. … Gonzalez said CF B.J. Upton, on the disabled list with a strained muscle on his right side, felt good after taking batting practice on the field Wednesday. … LHP Mike Minor (9-5, 2.98 ERA) starts against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright (13-5, 2.44) when the Braves begin a seven-game homestand Friday night. … Mets infielder Justin Turner made his first start since returning from the disabled list Monday, giving SS Omar Quintanilla a much-needed breather. … Collins said Wright checked out fine after getting hit in the back of the neck and head Wednesday night with the broken barrel of his own bat on a double-play grounder. … New York plays a day-night doubleheader Friday in Washington, with All-Star ace Matt Harvey pitching the nightcap.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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