Braves 4, Mets 1

Tommy Hanson knew exactly how long it had been since his last

win.

”July 3,” he said without a bit of hesitation.

He doesn’t have to remember that date anymore. Hanson finally

got some run support and won for the first time in nearly two

months, allowing just one hit in seven shutout innings to lead the

Atlanta Braves to their fifth straight win, 4-1 over the New York

Mets on Wednesday night.

”At the end of the day, it’s always fun to see the ‘W’ beside

your name,” Hanson said. ”But the most important thing is the

team winning, especially at this point in the season.”

Omar Infante and Jason Heyward combined for seven hits at the

top of the Braves’ order, Martin Prado drove in two runs with a

first-inning double and it could have been worse for the Mets if

they hadn’t thrown out two Atlanta runners at the plate.

The Braves maintained a three-game lead in the NL East over

Philadelphia, which beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1.

”Everyone feels happy where we’re at,” Hanson said. ”If we

keep doing what we’re doing, we should have a lot of fun down the

stretch.”

Hanson (9-10) had gone 0-5 over his previous 10 starts, largely

because the Braves’ offense always seemed to struggle when the

right-hander was on the mound. He allowed just 11 earned runs over

eight of those appearances – and didn’t get a win in any of

them.

The frustrating stretch seemed to get to Hanson in his last

start, when he gave up back-to-back homers to start the game, four

homers in all and took a 7-1 loss against Florida.

But he was in total command against New York, working off his

90-plus-mph fastball to stay ahead in the count and set up his

breaking pitches. David Wright’s one-out double in the fourth was

the lone hit surrendered by the Atlanta starter.

”When I’m commanding my fastball, that’s when I’m good,”

Hanson said.

New York’s other hit was pinch-hitter Luiz Hernandez’s two-out,

run-scoring single off Jonny Venters in the eighth. Billy Wagner

worked a perfect ninth for his 31st save.

Heyward had twice as many hits as the Mets, putting up the third

four-hit game of his rookie season – each time going the opposite

way to left. He has fully recovered from a thumb injury that kept

him from starting in the All-Star game and is hitting .450 (27 of

60) over his last 15 games.

”I’ve never been a person who tried to pull the ball,” Heyward

said. ”That’s what you have to do.”

Infante is nearly as hot. He had three singles – sprayed to all

three spots in the outfield – to raise his average to .346. He’s

reached base in 31 of his last 33 games.

The Braves started the game with three straight hits off Mike

Pelfrey (13-8). Infante dumped a single to right and Heyward

doubled into the left-field corner. Prado followed with a drive

that rolled all the way to the wall for a double, giving Hanson a

quick 2-0 lead.

Prado wisely tagged and went to third when New York rookie Lucas

Duda – just up from Triple-A – made a sliding catch in the corner

on Brian McCann’s fly ball. But Prado’s bravado caught up with him

when he tried to score on Eric Hinske’s grounder to first baseman

Ike Davis, who threw him out at home.

Atlanta doubled its lead in the second. Again, Infante and

Heyward were right in the middle of things.

After Rick Ankiel singled and moved to second on Hanson’s

sacrifice bunt, Infante yanked a run-scoring single to left.

Heyward followed with another opposite-field double and Infante,

running on the pitch, came around to score.

The Mets’ defense helped out again in the fourth. Infante picked

out another spot for a hit, singling to center with two outs, but

Ankiel was thrown out at the plate by Carlos Beltran.

Pelfrey, a bright spot for the Mets in a disappointing season,

allowed nine hits and all four runs in five innings, breaking a

streak of four straight starts in which he went at least seven

innings.

”That team, top to bottom, is a great ballclub,” Pelfrey said

of the Braves. ”When you make a mistake against them, they make

you pay for it.”

On the day rosters could be expanded, both teams put touted

rookies right in the lineup on their first day in the majors. Duda

batted seventh for the Mets and went 0 for 3. Atlanta’s Freddie

Freeman started at first base and went hitless in three at-bats,

including hitting into a double play.

Duda had faced Hanson in high school.

”He did the same thing to me then,” the Mets’ rookie said.

”He has great stuff.”

Notes: Braves RHP Derek Lowe is still bothered by a sore elbow

and will have to skip a start for the first time in his career.

Kenshin Kawakami will step in Friday for the opener of a weekend

series at Florida. … New York OF Angel Pagan (tendinitis, right

wrist) should be back in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale,

according to manager Jerry Manuel. … Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia, just

up from the minors, will start Saturday against the Cubs.