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Braves Take Game One, 6-4

Flushing, NY (Sports Network) – Jason Heyward hit a go-ahead three-run homer to cap a six-run fourth inning, and the Atlanta Braves began a crucial nine- game road trip with a 6-4 victory over the Mets.

Omar Infante added a two-run double and Melky Cabrera an RBI single in the fourth. All of the runs came with two outs for the Braves, who had dropped two of three to the Nationals for their first home series loss since April 20-22.

Atlanta had lost three of four overall, but managed to maintain a three-game deficit to NL East-leading Philadelphia with Friday’s win to open a three-game set at Citi Field. The Phillies topped Washington at home on Friday.

The Braves still lead the wild card and pushed their lead over San Diego to 1 1/2 games, with the Padres losing in St. Louis Friday.

Tommy Hanson (10-11) picked up just his second win in the last 14 starts for turning in six effective innings. He allowed four runs on five hits while walking one and fanning four.

Billy Wagner earned the save, his 34th, for pitching a perfect ninth.

Jon Niese (9-9) was touched for all six runs, although each was unearned after a David Wright throwing error in the fateful fourth. The loss was the fourth in five starts for Niese, who did not last past the inning and yielded five hits overall with three walks.

New York, which was coming off a four-game sweep of Pittsburgh, fell to 5-3 on a 10-game homestand.

The Mets scored three of its runs in the second to take an early lead. After Ike Davis walked with one out, during which time Braves manager Bobby Cox was ejected by home plate umpire Bill Hohn for arguing balls and strikes, Josh Thole and Lucas Duda strung together a pair of base hits to score the runner.

Niese later scored Thole with a single and Jose Reyes followed suit to bring in Duda.

The Braves rallied to go back in front two innings later. Derrek Lee opened the frame with a single and Wright’s error allowed Matt Diaz to reach safely. Alex Gonzalez fouled out for the second out before Cabrera stroked a single to center to start the scoring.

Hanson drew a walk to load the bases and Infante doubled home two more. Heyward stayed back on a hanging curveball and crushed it off the facade of the second deck in right for a three-run homer and 6-3 Braves lead.

“It’s great to be able to bounce back after being down 3-0. Niese had it going pretty well there in the first few innings. We had to put up one big inning, that’s all it took. It says a lot about our team. We were patient and hung in there,” Heyward said.

In the home fourth, Duda smacked a solo home run — his first in the majors — into the second deck just a few rows over from Heyward’s to make it a 6-4 game.

“It was a pretty cool feeling, off a tough pitcher Tommy Hanson, he’s got great stuff. I was just looking to hit the ball hard, and (it) left the yard,” Duda said of his first home run.

Hanson and Atlanta’s bullpen did the rest. The Mets went without another hit until Nick Evans’ pinch-hit double in the seventh off Jonny Venters, who got out of the inning without further incident.

Takashi Saito got the first two outs of the eighth before exiting with an undisclosed injury. Peter Moylan finished out the frame and Wagner closed the game for his first 34-save campaign since doing so with New York in 2007.

Hanson entered with a 0.73 ERA in four career starts versus the Mets and moved to 3-1 against them with the win…Atlanta is facing its largest deficit in the NL East since a 3 1/2-game margin on May 25…Atlanta has won five of its last six over New York and leads the season series, 9-7…Heyward hit his 18th home run of the season and now has 71 runs batted in…Reyes stole his 30th base of 2010, his fifth season of at least 30 steals…Cox furthered his own MLB record with a 158th career ejection.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.