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THE AMAZING RETURN OF BEN SHEETS TO MLB
Thu, 19 Jul 2012 09:29 PM EDT

Ben Sheets loved being back in the majors so much that he broke normal custom for starting pitchers and observed the last 3 innings from Atlanta’s hot dugout rather than the clubhouse.

”I like to do that and I’ve had excellent feedback on it,” he revealed. ”You work so long to get a victory. I ain’t going to leave them out there. They’re battling for me.”

Sheets pitched 6 scoreless innings in his 1st game in 2 years and the Atlanta Braves beat the N.Y Mets 6-1 on Sunday for their season-high 7th straight triumph. Football odds

Freddie Freeman hit a three-run homer in a 6-run 5th inning, and Sheets (1-0) allowed 2 hits and one walk with 5 strikeouts in his 1st start since July 19, 2010.

”I didn’t know what to expect,” Freeman related of his new teammate. ”It did not look like he took two years off.”

The Mets have lost 4 straight and seven of 10. Atlanta improved to a season-high 10 games over .500.

Johan Santana (6-6) gave up 8 hits, 6 runs, and 2 walks and struck out 3 in 5 innings.

The Braves had placed only 2 runners in scoring position before Matt Diaz, who started the game with a .514 in 35 career at-bats against Santana, doubled to guide off the 5th.

After Paul Janish walked on a slider that seemed to cross the outside part of the plate for a strikeout, Michael Bourn hit a one-out, opposite-field RBI double along the line in left to score Diaz from 2nd and make it 1-0.

Mets pitching Coach Dan Warthen was ejected in a mound visit following Bourn’s hit. When plate referee C.B. Bucknor reached the mound, Warthen began disagreeing with him, seemingly because Bucknor called Santana’s fastball outside on the pitch that preceded Bourn’s double.

Martin Prado followed with a sacrifice fly RBI to score Janish, and Bourn crossed the plate from 3rd on Jason Heyward’s RBI single. After Chipper Jones singled, Freeman hit his 12th homer to give the Atlanta Braves a 6-0 lead.

Kris Medlen replaced Sheets and gave up Andres Torres’ RBI single to make it 6-1 in the 7th. Eric O’Flaherty got the 3rd out of the eighth, and Anthony Varvaro pitched a scoreless 9th for Atlanta.

Sheets, unsigned after he missed all of 2011 following elbow ligament replacement surgery, escaped a jam in the 3rd with runners on 2nd and 3rd when David Wright flew out to deep right.

Sheets threw 88 pitches, 57 for strikes. In his prior start 2 years ago, he lost 2-1 to Boston while pitching for Oakland A’s.

Making his 242nd career start, Sheets improved to 91-92 and decreased his ERA to 3.77. Against the Mets, Sheets improved to 5-2 with a 4.05 ERA. The Atlanta Braves bought the former Milwaukee ace’s deal from Double-A Mississippi before the game.

”He mixed his pitches well, and his command was outstanding,” Atlanta executive Fredi Gonzalez said. ”A small better than I thought it might be the 1st time out. He gave us a hell of a chance to win the ball game.”


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