^By GEORGE HENRY=
ATLANTA (AP) _ Seth Lugo isn’t pitching like a 26-year-old rookie for the New York Mets.
Facing major league hitters is a lot different from pitching in the minors, but Lugo isn’t trying to do too much.
“I tell myself they’re going to put the ball in play,” Lugo said. “I’m not going to try to trick them or throw it by them. I’m going to throw it in the strike zone _ quality pitches, quality location and let them get themselves out.”
Yoenis Cespedes hit a grand slam, Lugo won his fourth straight start and the New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 10-3 on Sunday.
The Mets have won seven of eight and are 16-5 since Aug. 20. St. Louis’ 2-1 loss to Milwaukee moved New York one-half game ahead of the Cardinals for the second NL wild-card spot.
Lugo (4-2) allowed six hits, two runs and one walk and struck out five in seven innings. He is 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in five career starts after joining the rotation on Aug. 19.
“In minor leagues, I’d try to throw too hard or make too good (of a pitch) and I’d end up falling behind and have to come back with guys in scoring position,” Lugo said. “It takes a lot of discipline. Took a few years to figure that out.”
The Braves cut the lead to 6-1 in the fourth on Freddie Freeman’s RBI single, but Lugo stranded the bases loaded when Anthony Recker popped up and Dansby Swanson grounded into a double play.
Cespedes drove in the game’s first five runs off Williams Perez (2-3), who gave up four hits, five runs and one walk and struck out two in 2 2/3 innings. Perez left the game with right triceps impingement.
Cespedes’ 30th homer, which cleared the bases in the third, was his second grand slam this season. He has four in his career.
“If he’s going to get hot, this is a good time,” manager Terry Collins said. “This is a big stretch for us.”
James Loney homered to make it 6-0 in the fourth. Kelly Johnson and Alejandro De Aza had RBI singles, Loney an RBI double and Lugo a sacrifice fly for a 10-1 lead in the fifth.
New York led 1-0 in the first when Asdrubal Cabrera tripled and scored on Cespedes’ groundout.
Cespedes is hitting .308 with eight homers and 19 RBIs since Aug. 19.
Brandon Snyder cut the lead to 10-2 in the seventh with his third career pinch-hit homer.
With the Braves moving to a new ballpark next year, the Mets went 67-106 in 20 years at Turner Field. New York won 11 of its last 14 at the former stadium of the 1996 Olympics.
Players and coaches stood along the baselines before the game as the Braves held a 13-minute ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
A massive flag was held across the outfield while the team played a video commemorating the attacks and the Braves-Mets game on Sept. 21, 2001, at Shea Stadium _ the first major sporting event held in New York after 9/11.
Sunday’s ceremony included a 21-gun salute, a color guard from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, flag bearers from the U.S. Army, an honor guard from the Smyrna, Georgia, police and a contingent of bagpipes and drums.
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