By: Charles Odum AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) Andrelton Simmons’ two-run single in Atlanta’s three-run fourth helped the streaking Braves beat Daisuke Matsuzaka and the New York Mets 5-4 on Tuesday night.
Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy hit two-run homers for the Mets, who have lost three straight and six of seven.
The Braves overcame a shaky start from Mike Minor to protect their one-half game lead over Washington in the NL East. Atlanta has won six straight, its longest streak of the season.
Shae Simmons (1-0) took over for Minor in the fifth and pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings. Craig Kimbrel earned his 26th save by striking out Eric Young Jr., Granderson and Bobby Abreu in the ninth.
Matsuzaka (3-3) allowed five runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings. He has lost three straight starts.
On the day catcher Evan Gattis was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bulging disk in his back, robbing the team of one of its top power hitters, the Braves found other ways to score.
With the game tied 2-2 in the fourth, the Braves staged an improbable three-run inning. Chris Johnson reached on only his eighth walk of the season. With two outs, Johnson scored from second on Minor’s single to center _ only his second RBI of the season. Following a single and stolen base by B.J. Upton, Andrelton Simmons’ two-run single to left off Matsuzaka increased Atlanta’s lead to 5-2.
Minor quickly gave back two runs in the fifth on Murphy’s two-run homer. Minor then gave up singles to Eric Campbell and Lucas Duda before being bailed out by rookie Shae Simmons, whose sidearm delivery produced a fly ball from Chris Young and a strikeout of Travis d’Arnaud.
Minor lasted 4 1-3 innings, matching his shortest start of the season, and allowed four runs on nine hits and one walk. His ERA is 4.73 and he has made eight starts since his last win on May 19.
Atlanta rookie catcher Christian Bethancourt, making his second straight start, singled in the second inning to drive in Johnson for his first career RBI. Freddie Freeman had a run-scoring double in the third.
Granderson’s third-inning homer into the right-field seats drove in Juan Lagares, who had a bunt single. It was the fifth straight start Minor has allowed a homer.
Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella suffered a bruised right foot when he was hit by a pitch in the second inning. He left the game in the eighth.
NOTES: A few hundred fans arrived early to watch the United States lose to Belgium in the World Cup. The game was shown on the stadium video board. … Tejada has a 10-game hitting streak. … B.J. Upton has an eight-game hitting streak and 13 stolen bases. He stole 12 bases in 2013. … Gov. Nathan Deal threw out the first pitch. … The Braves recalled RHP Juan Jaime from Triple-A Gwinnett. … Braves RHP David Carpenter (strained right biceps) is expected to come off the 15-day DL on Wednesday. … The series ends Wednesday night with Atlanta’s Julio Teheran facing New York’s Jacob deGrom.