ATLANTA (AP) — Joc Pederson hit a solo homer off Carlos Carrasco in the third inning, William Contreras went deep with a two-run shot off Carrasco in the fourth and the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 6-5 on Saturday night.
Two nights after clinching their fourth straight division title, the Braves had three regulars in the lineup — first baseman Freddie Freeman, shortstop Dansby Swanson and left fielder Eddie Rosario. Manager Brian Snitker said the everyday lineup will be back for Sunday’s regular season finale.
The NL East champion Braves have won seven of eight. New York, which stranded the bases loaded in a two-run ninth inning, ended a two-game winning streak and will try Sunday to win the season series with Atlanta for the first time since 2017.
Pederson went deep into the Braves’ bullpen in right-center for his 18th homer of the year. Orlando Arcia followed with a double and scored on Freeman’s single to make it 2-0. Contreras’ eighth homer sailed into the left-field seats to put Atlanta up 4-0.
“I think we’re a great team and I don’t think there’s much to worry about getting stale or not prepared," Pederson said. “I think we’ve been preparing for this moment all year, and we’re ready for it."
Rosario’s RBI single in the fifth made it 5-0, and the Braves led 6-1 in the sixth on Arcia’s RBI single.
“We’re in a great spot," Pederson said. “Hitting well, pitching well, bullpen’s throwing well, and that’s what you need. It’s going to be a fun run."
Carrasco (1-5) had posted a 14.73 ERA in the first inning this season but changed his fortune by facing four batters and striking out three in the initial frame. He got no help from his offense as New York mustered three baserunners on an error and two walks in the first four innings.
“It was good to see him get out of the first inning," Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “He changed things up a little bit. He threw back-to-back changeups to start the game. He didn’t have a normal season. He had a lot of challenges and setbacks with injury, but he came to compete and help the team win games.”
Carrasco allowed five runs and seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts in five innings.
“There were a lot of ups and downs," Carrasco said when asked about his season. “I didn't have a regular spring training. I missed three months. I worked hard to get back. We've got another year, so I just need to come in ready."
The Mets didn’t get a hit until Luis Guillorme snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a one-out single in the fifth. Michael Conforto singled with one out in the sixth and scored from first on Pete Alonso’s double to trim the lead to 5-1. Francisco Lindor tripled in the eighth for his 1,000th career hit and came home on Conforto’s 14th homer, a 418-foot shot to right off Dylan Lee, to make it 6-3.
Kevin Pillar's RBI triple and Brandon Nimmo's RBI pulled New York within 6-5 off Richard Rodriguez in the ninth.
Jesse Chavez started in a bullpen game for the Braves and tossed two perfect innings. Drew Smyly (11-4), who lost his spot in the rotation after losing at the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 30, pitched around two walks in the fourth and a single the next inning.
A.J. Minter came on in the sixth and pitched the seventh. Jacob Webb recorded the final out to earn his first save in three chances, getting Villar to ground out with the bases loaded.
“It's been a pretty good formula when we've had to do these bullpen games," Snitker said. “Jesse and Smyly — I thought they both threw the ball extremely well."
Robert Gsellman pitched the sixth after getting reinstated from the 60-day injured list. He had been out since mid-June with a right lat strain. The team optioned RHP Tylor Megill to Triple-A Syracuse and recalled INF Brandon Drury from Syracuse and designated him for assignment.
Braves 2B Ozzie Albies has seven triples, a career-high 30 homers and needs one double to become the 10th player with three seasons of at least 40 doubles, 20 homers and five triples. He would join Stan Musial (6), Lou Gehrig (6), Rogers Hornsby (6), Hank Greenberg (5), Chuck Klein (4), Mookie Betts (3), Ted Williams (3) and Al Simmons (3).
Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will pitch one inning in his second outing after returning from Tommy John surgery when the teams conclude the regular season. RHP Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.39) will pitch two innings for the Braves and will be their starter when the NL Division Series begins next Friday at Milwaukee.