I've been waiting all season for a classic Manny Acosta implosion against the Braves. He did it so often for us that it seemed only natural to expect him to give up a key home run against us. And finally, it happened. With the bases loaded and two outs in the 7th inning, Mets manager Jerry Manuel brought in Acosta to face the hot-hitting Derrek Lee. Acosta quickly fell behind 3-0, and after working the count full, threw a meatball right over the heart of the plate that Lee just crushed for a second-deck homer to left-center field. That turned a tense 2-2 game into a comfortable 6-2 Braves lead, and the rest was easy.
You could probably argue that the Braves should have had a much bigger lead at that point--they hit into two killer double plays, and Rick Ankiel used one of the worst slides in history to stupidly get thrown out at third after what should have been a leadoff double. You should also give some credit to Mets starter R.A. Dickey, though, as he did make some good pitches with runners on base. Considering that he allowed 10 baserunners in his first 6 innings, he did well to keep the Mets close, inducing 16 ground balls (including the 2 double plays).
If it weren't for Alex Gonzalez, Dickey might not have given up any runs in the first 6 innings. Fortunately for the Braves, though, Sea Bass twice came through with a 2-out single with a runner on third. He closed the deficit from 2-0 to 2-1 in the 2nd inning and tied the game at 2 in the 6th inning. Dickey also gave up hits to the first two batters he saw in the 7th before being pulled (both runners would score on Lee's grand slam). He finished with a line of 6 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 0 K, 16/25 GB (64%), and a -0.054 WPA.
The Braves were down 2-0 thanks to a first inning homer by David Wright off of Derek Lowe. Wright's homer was more of a high fly than a long fly, but he got just enough of it to get it over the sharply angled wall in Citi Field's right field corner. After the homer, though, Lowe really settled down. He gave up only two more hits and no more runs before leaving after the 6th inning. Even more impressive, Lowe did not give up a single fly ball in his last 5 innings; of his last 18 batters faced, 13 hit grounders (all became outs), 2 hit line drives (both went for hits), 2 struck out, and 1 walked. I guess he got his sinker working after that first inning, huh?
Eric O'Flaherty gave up a run in the 7th to cut the Braves' lead to 6-3, but it came on a double play, and he quickly finished the inning. Jonny Venters also got a double-play in a scoreless 8th. With Billy Wagner having saved the first two games of the series and the huge Philly series on deck, Bobby opted to used Craig Kimbrel in the 9th inning instead of Wagner. It was a savvy move, as a 6-3 lead against the Mets is about as comfortable a save opportunity as you can get, and it paid off. Kimbrel gave up an infield hit but struck out the other 3 hitters he faced to close out the Mets and finish the Braves' sweep. It was his first major league save, and almost certainly not his last.
The sweep was the Braves' first on the road in a 3-game set since the sweep of the Brewers in May that catapulted the team onto its phenomenal run to first place. Hopefully this series will similarly help propel the Braves back into first place.
Scoreboard Watch: The Phillies just came back from a 6-3, 9th inning deficit to win 7-6. Drew Storen of the Nats didn't even get an out in blowing the save. The Giants and Rockies are both leading early, too. At least the Padres lost.
Derrek Lee -- 2/5, Grand Slam, 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI, GIDP, 0.351 WPA
Derek Lowe -- 6 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 K, 14/19 GB (74%), and a 0.093 WPA
Alex Gonzalez -- 2/5, 2 RBI, 0.190 WPA
Omar Infante -- 2/4, BB, R, 0.157 WPA
Manny Acosta -- 0.1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 HR, 1 BB, 0 K, -0.401 WPA
Lee's grand slam, obviously (0.404 WPA)