8th-inning single extends Uggla’s streak
Tim Hudson was very impressed with his speedy new teammate, George Costanza. Er, make that Jose Constanza.
Kid about ”Seinfeld” now. The way this rookie is playing soon no one is going to get his name wrong.
Constanza had an RBI triple and made two outstanding catches in the outfield to back Hudson, Dan Uggla extended his career-best hitting streak to 26 games with a two-run single in the eighth inning and the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 4-1 on Friday night.
”Costanza, Georgie, came in, he’s doing well. . . . That’s his name right?” Hudson said with a smile. ”He’s made a great impression right from the start.”
The 27-year-old Constanza smiled when asked if he had heard of the bald curmudgeon.
”A lot of teams in Triple-A, they play his music when I come to bat,” Constanza said through an interpreter.
Constanza made his big league debut on July 29 — for the injured Nate McLouth — and after getting two hits in four at-bats Friday was hitting .407 in 27 at-bats. McLouth had sports hernia surgery Thursday and will be out at least six weeks, opening more playing time for Constanza.
”He’s put himself in a position where you got to think about playing him,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Rookie Freddie Freeman doubled twice to run his hitting streak to 19 games, a personal best. Hudson (11-7) allowed three hits in helping the Braves hand the Mets their fifth straight loss.
”This team will stay positive,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ”You can be sure of that.”
Michael Bourn added a sacrifice fly for Atlanta off R.A. Dickey (5-10). Constanza made two acrobatic catches on drives by Jose Reyes in left field and Jason Heyward made a diving grab on Daniel Murphy’s drive in right.
”They run balls down,” Hudson said. ”It’s nice. It’s normal Braves baseball. . . . It’s a fun style of baseball and it’s nice to have it on your side for a change.”
The Mets have not scored more than three runs during the skid that dropped them below .500 for the first time since July 18. More pressing, New York fell nine games behind the wild card-leading Braves.
They put runners on first and second against Jonny Venters in the eighth but came up empty. Craig Kimbrel was perfect in the ninth for his 33rd save.
Hudson did not allow more than three runs for his 11th straight start, improving to 7-2 in that span. On June 5 he gave up five runs against the Mets.
He retired nine straight after David Wright’s RBI double high off the wall in left-center. Angel Pagan’s two-out walk in the fourth ended that stretch, and Jason Bay’s ground-rule double and Lucas Duda being hit with a pitch loaded the bases.
Josh Thole then popped out, falling to 1 for 9 with the bases full and two outs.
”We’ve got to give our guys (pitchers) some support,” Collins said. ”R.A., even in his last start, he gave up three runs and we didn’t give him anything to work with. We’ve got to give these guys something to relax with a little bit.”
Despite another sold outing, Dickey lost his 10th game for the first time in his career. Other than a shaky third, the knuckleballer gave the Braves little opportunity to break open the game.
In the sixth, Martin Prado singled with one out and moved to third on Freeman’s double. But Uggla struck out with a mighty cut and was 0 for 3 against Dickey — he dropped to 0 for 18 against him for his career. Heyward grounded to short to end the threat.
Dickey gave up five hits and two runs. He struck out five without walking a batter.
Uggla got his two-run single off Ryota Igarashi in the eighth after Constanza got caught in a rundown trying to score from third that put runners on second and third.
Uggla is starting to feel the pressure of the streak, but not in this at-bat. He had other things on his mind.
”In that situation, it was actually calming with runners in scoring position,” Uggla said. ”It actually let me take my focus off the lesser of the important, which is continuing the hit streak and just concentrating on driving in the runners somehow.”
Duda hit a drive leading off the seventh that got a rise out of the crowd at Citi Field but it fell into Heyward’s glove just in front of the wall in right-center of the expansive ballpark.
Constanza ripped a liner into right-center that drove in Alex Gonzalez for the first run in the third. Constanza stumbled around third when he was held up at the last second for a triple. Bourn hit a sacrifice fly to left for the 2-1 lead.
Notes: The Mets recalled OF Nick Evans and optioned C Mike Nickeas to Triple-A Buffalo after the game. … New York wore blue jerseys with ”Los Mets” written across the chest in honor of Fiesta Latina Night. … Braves 3B Chipper Jones (tight right quadriceps) was held out of the Braves lineup for one more game. Jones should start Saturday. He will rest Sunday because he’s been limited to pinch-hitting duties since returning from arthroscopic surgery on June 25. … Mets 1B Ike Davis (bone bruise, left ankle) is likely done for the season. Out since getting hurt May 10, Davis will stop running for four weeks before being reevaluated. … Braves OF Eric Hinske turned 34 Friday.