Marcum shines as Mets rally for win
NEW YORK (AP)
Not a bad way to bust out of a slump.
Ike Davis finally snapped his prolonged funk at the plate with a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning, and the New York Mets rallied past the Atlanta Braves 4-2 on Sunday night to end an eight-game losing streak at home.
Before the game, Davis had a meeting with manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson, who also spoke to reporters and addressed weeks of speculation about whether the first baseman should be demoted to the minors.
Alderson said there was no deadline for such a decision, and hours later Davis delivered his biggest hit of an agonizing season.
''They wanted me to have fun again. Smile more, laugh on the field. I know that the fans may hate that, but I won't perform any better by being miserable,'' Davis said. ''And I am now 1 for 1 with the new approach. The meeting today helped.''
Shaun Marcum struck out a career-high 12 and Lucas Duda homered for the Mets, who stopped Atlanta's eight-game winning streak and avoided a three-game sweep. The Braves had won 15 of 18 against New York and five in a row at Citi Field.
Pinch-hitter Justin Turner led off the eighth with a single against Cory Gearrin (1-1). David Wright struck out but Duda punched a ground-rule double to left for his third hit, and John Buck's run-scoring single tied it at 2.
Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Davis.
''The first thing I thought of was, get a hit,'' Collins said. ''I said to the baseball gods that this kid needs a base hit.''
He got one, pulling a two-run single through the right side for a 4-2 Mets lead.
''I went up wanting a sacrifice fly and not to ground into a double play,'' Davis said. ''He's a nasty pitcher with sinking movement and I wanted to stay through and hit right through the sinker.''
After the game, the affable Davis cracked a smile when he found a crowd of reporters waiting at his locker.
''I'm popular,'' he said, with more than a touch of New York sarcasm. ''Greeaaaat.''
Davis began the night batting .148 with nine RBIs. He finished 2 for 3 with a walk after entering in a 2-for-44 slide that included 19 strikeouts. It was his first hit in his last 27 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
''Just a sinker. He got under it enough and got it out there,'' Gearrin said. ''You've got to tip your hat a little bit to those guys. They put the bat on the ball and made something happen.''
LaTroy Hawkins (1-0) worked a scoreless inning and Bobby Parnell struck out two in the ninth for his seventh save. It was a spirited and heartening win for the Mets heading into their Subway Series against the crosstown-rival New York Yankees beginning Monday night.
Marcum went seven innings for his longest outing in six starts with the Mets. His only costly mistake came on Dan Uggla's two-run homer in the seventh that put Atlanta ahead 2-1.
Duda hit a leadoff shot to right off Julio Teheran in the fourth, giving him nine home runs and 16 RBIs this season. It also extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 games.
Marcum allowed a leadoff single in the first to Andrelton Simmons, quickly erased on a hard-hit double play, and didn't permit another hit until the sixth. The only baserunner the Braves managed during that stretch came when Uggla was hit by a pitch in the second.
After that, Marcum retired 13 straight batters before Simmons reached down and floated a flare over shortstop with two outs in the sixth. Hustling all the way out of the box, Simmons legged it out for a double. He was stranded when Jason Heyward took a called third strike.
Relying on an effective slider and changeup to go with his 85 mph fastball, Marcum cooled off the Atlanta bats with finesse. He struck out slumping B.J. Upton looking to end the seventh, surpassing his previous career high of 11 strikeouts set on June 16, 2007, with Toronto against Washington.
It was the right-hander's fourth career double-digit strikeout game and first since July 20, 2010, with Toronto against Cleveland.
''You don't have to light up the radar gun to be successful,'' Uggla said. ''Marcum really knows how to pitch — every aspect of the word pitching. He's very patient. He knows his strengths, knows his weaknesses, and he had just unbelievable command. Not just his fastball, but of everything. He knows what he wants to do with every pitch. So he was good tonight, man. He really kept us off balance.''
Freeman fanned four times and B.J. Upton three for the Braves, who lead the NL in strikeouts.
NOTES: Braves RHP Jordan Walden (shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen before the game and was expected to start a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Mets reliever Scott Atchison (right elbow inflammation) could be ready to come off the disabled list after one more minor league rehab outing, Collins said. Atchison is eligible to return Wednesday. ... The Mets play the AL East-leading Yankees four straight times beginning Monday night, with the first two games at Citi Field and the next two in the Bronx. LHP Jonathon Niese (3-5, 4.80) starts the opener for the Mets against RHP Phil Hughes (2-3, 5.51). ... The Mets donated more than 5,000 tickets to the USO for Military Appreciation Night. Representatives from each branch of the military threw out a first pitch.