By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Juan Lagares hit a two-run homer and ran down one ball after another in center field, sending Dillon Gee and the New York Mets to a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
Gee stopped the longest losing streak of his career at five games, outpitching Alex Wood in the opener of a three-game series. Lagares, rated one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, scurried from gap to gap and finished with seven putouts.
One of them was spectacular _ he robbed Wood of a base hit with a diving, tumbling grab in shallow center to end the third inning. Lagares also began the game by running a long way to track down consecutive fly balls, and he made all three putouts in the sixth.
Streaking slugger Justin Upton went 3 for 3 with an RBI double and a walk for Atlanta.
Right in the thick of a crowded NL wild-card race, the Braves have totaled only five runs while dropping three straight after a 7-1 stretch.
With the Mets minus ailing David Wright and Daniel Murphy, nobody in either lineup was batting higher than .295 _ and both starters were effective.
Backed by three double plays, a clean-shaven Gee (5-6) gave up two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He entered 0-5 with a 5.71 ERA in seven starts since beating the Braves 4-1 on July 9 in his first start after spending nearly two months on the disabled list with a strained right lat.
Gee was lifted after Tommy La Stella’s run-scoring single made it 3-2. Jeurys Familia got four outs, and Jenrry Mejia pitched a one-hit ninth for his 19th save in 22 tries.
New York turned four double plays in all. Mejia leaped off the mound and raised both arms after throwing a called third strike past Evan Gattis to end it.
Wood (9-10) retired his final 12 batters after Lagares’ homer in the fourth. The left-hander struck out six and walked one in seven innings. He yielded two earned runs or fewer in each of his previous five starts.
Ruben Tejada hit an RBI single in the second, two batters after Lagares singled. Atlanta tied it on consecutive doubles by Freddie Freeman and Upton with two outs in the fourth.
Travis d’Arnaud doubled to open the bottom half and Lagares drove Wood’s full-count pitch to left field for his fourth home run _ his second in three games after going more than three months without one.
Braves: RHP Cory Gearrin is ready to begin a throwing program in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery in April, manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Mets: Wright left Sunday’s 11-3 win at Dodger Stadium with a muscle spasm on the right side of his neck that he said is getting better. Murphy, who leads the NL in hits, was removed late in that game due to tightness in his right calf and said he’s day to day. He expected to be examined by a doctor Tuesday evening. Mets manager Terry Collins said he’s not sure how long either player will be out. … Eric Campbell replaced Wright at third base and batted third. Wilmer Flores shifted over from shortstop to Murphy’s spot at second. Campbell and Flores combined on a pair of 5-4-3 double plays, including one in the ninth. … RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow inflammation) is scheduled to make another rehab start Thursday for Class A Brooklyn, Collins said.
All-Star RHP Julio Teheran (12-9, 2.96 ERA) pitches Wednesday night for Atlanta against RHP Zack Wheeler (9-8, 3.48 ERA), who has won six straight decisions. Wheeler is 3-1 with a 3.50 ERA in six career starts against the Braves, his hometown team.
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