Tommy Hanson struggled through his worst start of the season on the same day the Atlanta Braves put Jair Jurrjens on the disabled list.
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Justin Turner homered twice and the New York Mets hit four homers off Hanson as they stopped a five-game losing streak with an 11-7 victory Saturday night. It was the Braves’ fourth loss in six games.
”It’s like everyone says, pitching wins ballgames,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ”Tonight we had a slow-pitch softball game – we don’t win those very often.”
Still in Atlanta’s favor: The Braves got Chipper Jones back in the lineup, Dan Uggla extended his hitting streak to 27 games, and Freddie Freeman ran his own to 20.
The Braves (65-49) have a 3 1/2-game cushion in the NL wild-card race and recently added Michael Bourn to a lineup that had been lacking a leadoff hitter all season.
But the loss of arguably their best starting pitcher on the same night Hanson looked shaky was troubling.
”You go through those things. We just don’t want two or three guys going through it at the same time,” Gonzalez said. ”We’ll get it together. Those guys have been good for the first 100 games.”
Hanson (11-7) allowed seven runs in 3 1/3 innings. He lasted one out longer in his first start, but allowed only three earned runs April 2. He is 1-3 in six outings since he won five starts in a row from June 1 to July 4.
”Warming up, my location wasn’t there,” Hanson said. ”It was the same trouble I had once I got in the game. I didn’t have very good — actually I had horrible command.”
Jones returned to the Braves’ lineup after he was limited because of a strained right quadriceps. Gonzalez pinch-hit for him late once light rain began to fall.
”We’ve come too far with him to get him back. We don’t want to take a chance,” Gonzalez said. ”It wasn’t just running the bases, the conditions then even a bad swing could affect you.”
Jason Bay and Josh Thole also connected for the Mets, who banged out 16 hits to break out of a weeklong offensive funk. New York hit four homers in a game for the first time in more than a year.
”They got some really good swings on Tommy’s stuff tonight,” Uggla said. ”You would think seven runs would be enough to win with this staff.”
Jonathon Niese (11-8) gave up a season-high 10 hits, but made it through five innings. He allowed five runs and struck out six to win for the fourth time in five decisions and eighth in 11.
In the third inning, Freeman’s broken-bat RBI single extended his streak and Uggla followed with a roller down the third base line that just barely stayed fair and was too slow to draw a throw. Both of them came home on David Ross’ two-run single. After Alex Gonzalez singled to put runners on first and third, Jose Constanza hit a blooper that barely made it past the mound.
Turner came in from second base and dived, but the ball bounced just at the lip of his glove. He held the ball up for a second, thinking he made the catch, then fired to second to get Gonzalez while Ross came home. Hanson grounded out to end the inning.
”I felt like they didn’t hit the ball that hard,” Niese said. ”I just went out and said, ‘Here, hit it.”’
Bay answered with a two-run shot with two outs in the third that got the Mets back to within a run, and Thole took Hanson deep in the fourth to tie it at 5 before Turner’s drive.
Niese gave up all five runs in the third inning, and the leadoff batter reached in the first four innings against him.
Once Jose Reyes led off the sixth with a single, every starting position player for the Mets had a hit. Reyes had already contributed with a walk, two steals and a run, and Angel Pagan stole two bases, too.
After the start was delayed by rain for 1 hour, 2 minutes, the Mets took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Turner’s solo shot to left-center and David Wright’s RBI double.
”It was weird tonight, it seemed that every good pitch Tommy made they got barrel to it,” Jones said. ”Write it off as a fluke on our part and come out tomorrow and win the series. You got to give them credit, they put some good at bats against us tonight – it was their night.”
NOTES: Mets RHP Dillon Gee (10-3) was set to face the Braves for the fifth time in his career Sunday. He is 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA against Atlanta. … The Braves called up lefty Mike Minor (1-2) to start Sunday in place of Jurrjens, who was placed on the DL because of a strained right knee. The move is retroactive to Tuesday and Gonzalez expects to get Jurrjens back as soon as he’s eligible. Minor’s first win of the season came June 21 against Toronto, his most recent big league start. … Braves RHP Anthony Varvaro, who grew up in Staten Island and went to college at St. John’s in Queens, pitched 2 1-3 innings of relief. He allowed three hits with three strikeouts and an intentional walk. He was charged with a run when George Sherrill gave up a single to pinch-hitter Scott Hairston in the eighth. … Uggla homered leading off the ninth.