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07/23/2013 12:04 AM EDT
Heyward saves Braves win with diving catch in 9th
ATLANTA 2, NY METS 1
By HOWIE RUMBERG
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Credit Jason Heyward with a save. His teammates
The 6-foot-5 outfielder made a diving, game-ending catch with
runners on first and second after pinch-hitter Reed Johnson hit
a go-ahead single with two outs in a two-run top half, leading
the Atlanta Braves to a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets on
"That was unbelievable," Johnson said.
Playing for the first time after missing six games with a
strained right hamstring, Heyward was positioned toward
right-center field when pinch-hitter Justin Turner sent Craig
Kimbrel's pitch to the opposite gap. Heyward raced across Citi
Field's spacious outfield and made a flat out dive for the drive
in the rain. He held up his glove to show he had the ball as he
slid across the turf on his belly for the final out.
"I want to make every play I can," the Gold Glove outfielder
said. "If I try to play it on the hop it probably gets by me.
The safe way there was probably not the best."
The Braves appreciated the effort. Johnson, the left fielder,
threw his hands in the air and jumped up. Starter Julio Teheran
said he jumped, too, while watching in the clubhouse. Kimbrel
threw his head back, then held his hands out wide - lip readers
could see him saying, "Oh, my God!"
Astonishing? Not to Brian McCann.
"When he gets full tilt, he can fly," said the catcher, who
started the Braves' ninth-inning rally with a single off Bobby
Heyward was playing center field because B.J. Upton is on the
"If he doesn't leave his feet, he ain't gonna catch that ball,"
manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But the son of a gun's 6-foot-6,
6-7, and he's not afraid to do that. We've seen him do that in
right field, leave his feet. Wow, what a catch!"
The Braves were in position to win because they took advantage
of catcher John Buck's passed ball to score twice in the ninth.
Atlanta did not get a hit off Dillon Gee until Freddie Freeman
led off the seventh with a single. But the NL East leaders ended
their two-game skid against Parnell (5-5).
With shortstop Omar Quintanilla playing behind second base in a
shift, McCann singled through the opening at short to open the
ninth. Evan Gattis followed with a bloop single to right-center.
David Wright then fielded Dan Uggla's grounder and stepped on
third before leaping over a sliding pinch-runner Jose Constanza.
Buck's passed ball on a high fastball put runners in scoring
position before Chris Johnson's grounder tied it.
"We just got crossed up," Buck said of he and Parnell on the
Batting for reliever Jordan Walden, Reed Johnson lined a single
to center for the lead - a day after he was robbed of an
eighth-inning homer by the White Sox's Casper Wells in a 3-1
Kimbrel hit Buck with a pitch with one out in the rainy ninth,
drawing the Mets fans ire as he tried to get comfortable in the
steady downpour by walking off the mound after nearly every
pitch. Pinch-runner Andrew Brown advanced to second on a wild
pitch and Quintanilla drew a 10-pitch walk.
Turner, in his first game off the disabled list, then hit what
he thought would at least tie it.
"I went up there and tried to take a good at-bat, and
unfortunately ended up on the wrong end of a highlight reel,"
Kimbrel earned his 28th save. Walden (4-1) pitched the eighth
for the Braves' first win in three games.
Teheran kept pace with Gee, allowing just Ike Davis' RBI single
in the fourth inning.
"I knew the other pitcher was pitching great, too. I just tried
to keep the game close," Teheran said.
Teheran put runners on base in each of the first four innings,
but picked off leadoff man Eric Young Jr. after walking him in
the first. Teheran couldn't overcome Marlon Byrd's leadoff
triple in the fourth, though.
Byrd hit a sinking line drive to right field that went under the
glove of a charging Justin Upton and rolled to the wall. Byrd
raced around second and the fans' cheers began to swell but
turned to a collective "aww" when he was held at third rather
than try for an inside-the-park homer.
Davis followed with a sharp grounder under diving first baseman
Freeman for the 1-0 lead. It was Davis' first RBI since he drove
in two runs July 5, his first game back from the minors.
The Braves wasted a big chance in the seventh when Freeman led
off with their first hit. Atlanta then loaded the bases with one
out on a single by Gattis and Uggla was hit by a pitch.
Gee threw his gutsiest pitches of the night with the bases
jammed. First Chris Johnson grounded to third baseman Wright,
who rushed the slow bouncer and threw home for a fielder's
choice. Then Gee tossed two pitches in the dirt that
pinch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich chased for an inning-ending
strikeout. Mets fans gave Gee a loud cheer as he walked off the
Gee was lifted after 96 pitches and seven innings, allowing two
hits and three walks. He has tossed 13 2-3 consecutive innings
without allowing an earned run.
NOTES: Mets rookie center fielder Juan Lagares was named NL
player of the week. He went 7 for 10 with two doubles, one homer
and five RBIs over his last three games. ... The Braves are
putting LHP Paul Maholm (wrist strain) on the 15-day DL. Rookie
Alex Wood will make his second big league start in his place.
... Atlanta CF B.J. Upton (leg muscle strain) ran for the first
time since going on the DL July 14, retroactive to the 13th.
Gonzalez said Upton likely will not be ready to be activated
when eligible this weekend.
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