McCann's blast helps Braves down Mets

BY foxsports • September 18, 2009

The Atlanta Braves and New York Mets are streaking in opposite directions.

Brian McCann hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the fifth inning and the Braves beat the reeling Mets 7-3 on Thursday night for their first seven-game winning streak since 2006.

"Everything's going good right now," manager Bobby Cox said.

McCann also had a sacrifice fly in his fifth game of the season with at least four RBIs, helping the Braves move 10 games over .500 for the first time since May 16, 2007. Atlanta (78-68) is 4 1/2 games behind NL wild card-leading Colorado.

"This is the best we've played since I've been here," McCann said. "It feels great because we could have folded. That could have been it. I think we're playing with a carefree attitude. There's nothing to lose. At the end (of the regular season), we hope it will be enough. We'll see."

The Braves, who moved past Florida for second in the NL East, host division-leading Philadelphia for a weekend series beginning Friday night. Atlanta still trails the Phillies by 7 1/2 games, leaving the wild-card race as its best hope for a return to the postseason.

"This is definitely going to be big for us," said Jair Jurrjens, who pitched seven strong innings against the Mets. "We just need to keep winning, winning series, keep winning every game we can right now."

New York (63-84) has lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall 21 games under .500 for the first time since Oct. 2, 2004, when it was 70-91.

"Has it been that long?" said Daniel Murphy, who had three hits, including a homer. "I didn't know. ... Losing is frustrating, whenever it happens."

The injury-riddled Mets have 20 fewer wins than at the same point of the 2008 season, when they were 83-64 and in first place in the NL East.

"The difference is you have to go back to the health issue," manager Jerry Manuel said. "If you don't have players in place, you can't do anything consistently. The guys are putting forth good effort. You can't question the effort. We've just fallen short."

Jurrjens (12-10) allowed two runs, one earned, and six hits, lowering his ERA to 2.75.

"Right now I think we're just having fun," Jurrjens said. "We're not worried about the standings anymore. We just go out there and play good ball."

McCann gave the Braves a 5-2 lead with a two-out drive to right for his 19th homer. Nate McLouth and Martin Prado had one-out singles before Nelson Figueroa struck out Garret Anderson, bringing McCann to the plate.

Atlanta had six hits in its four-run fifth, including a run-scoring single by Matt Diaz.

The start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 3 minutes by rain.

Prado also had a two-run double in the third for Atlanta, which finished with 13 hits.

Murphy hit an eighth-inning homer off Eric O'Flaherty. Fernando Tatis had a two-run single in the fourth.

Figueroa (2-6) gave up six runs and nine hits in five innings.

"It's very difficult," Figueroa said of New York's skid. "You don't want to go out this way. It's one thing to be out of it and another thing to continue to lose."

Diaz was hit by a pitch in the second and is tied for second in the National League with 13 total, including nine times since Aug. 17 - a span of exactly one month. He has been hit four times in the last three games.

The Braves' last seven-game winning streak came in July 2006, wrapped around the All-Star break. They had not been 10 games over .500 since they were 25-15 on May 16, 2007.


Manuel said he is moving RHP Bobby Parnell back to the bullpen for the last two weeks of the season. Parnell is 3-8 with a 5.60 ERA in 62 games, including a 1-5 record and 7.93 ERA in eight starts. ... Cox said he hopes RHP Derek Lowe, who left Wednesday night's game after two innings with a blister on his right ring finger, can make his next start. ... Cox said LHP Mike Gonzalez, who had a stiff back Wednesday night, was not available on Thursday night.