Thanks to Adam LaRoche, rookie Tommy Hanson didn’t have to worry about his 10th win slipping away again.
Hanson cruised through another start, pitching seven innings, and LaRoche homered twice and drove in three runs to lead the Atlanta Braves to their fifth straight win, 6-0 over the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Nate McLouth had three RBIs, but this was largely a two-man effort.
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Hanson (10-3) has allowed just one run in his last 20 innings to reach double-figure wins in a brilliant debut season. He could have had No. 10 in his last start, pitching eight scoreless inning at Houston, only to have Rafael Soriano blow it in the ninth of a 2-1 loss.
“It was nice to get a few runs early,” said Hanson, who allowed three hits, walked three and struck out eight. “The last few outings, everything has felt good.”
The winning streak has likely come a little late for the Braves, who remained 7 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East. They started the day trailing wild-card leader Colorado by six games.
“We have absolutely nothing to lose. We have zero pressure,” LaRoche said. “We’re in a bad position. Everyone is just going out there and doing their thing.”
LaRoche went 4 for 4, including solo homers in the second and the sixth, giving him 25 this season – 12 since he was acquired from the Boston Red Sox on July 31. He had an RBI double in the fourth, and a leadoff double in the eighth.
LaRoche scored four runs and became the first Braves player to have four extra-base hits in a game since doing it himself during his first stint with the team, on Aug. 30, 2006.
“I’m just swinging at good pitches,” he said. “I get in trouble when I start chasing.”
McLouth’s two-run double off Pat Misch (1-3) finished off a three-run fourth that gave the Braves a 4-0 lead before a sparse crowd at Turner Field. McLouth had another double in the ninth, driving in the final run.
Omar Infante had three hits for the Braves.
The Mets, who have lost seven of eight, managed one hit off Hanson through the first six innings. They finally strung together a couple of hits in the seventh, but Anderson Hernandez grounded out to end the threat.
“He looks like a very good young pitcher,” New York manager Jerry Manuel said. “We’ll probably be battling him a long time in this division. It looks like he has command of all his pitches. When he gets behind in the count, he can go to his off-speed pitches. That’s a good trait.”
Hanson didn’t allow a runner past second base. Mike Gonzalez and Eric Flaherty finished off the four-hitter, the Braves‘ ninth shutout of the season.
Daniel Murphy said Hanson has clearly improved since spring training. The rookie started the season at Triple-A but was called up when the Braves released Tom Glavine in early May.
“His pitches weren’t quite as crisp in spring training,” Murphy said. “Apparently, he has found it. He’s making better pitches. He lives on the corners.”
Misch went five innings, surrendering eight hits and four runs. He walked one and didn’t strike out anyone.
Hanson had a good night at the plate with three straight sacrifice bunts, each coming after Infante singled. … Heavy rain washed out batting practice, but the game started on time and there were no more showers. … The crowd was announced at 25,094, but there appeared to be less than 10,000 people at Turner Field. … The Mets were shut out for the 11th time, tied for second-most in the majors behind Pittsburgh’s 14. … Braves 3B Chipper Jones missed his second straight game with a strained oblique and lower back pain, but SS Yunel Escobar returned after missing the last two games with a sprained right ankle.