McNeil lifts Mets over Braves 1-0 for doubleheader split

Sports

Atlanta Braves pitcherKyle Muller delivers the ball to the New York Mets during the first inning of the first game of a baseball doubleheader Monday, July 26, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

NEW YORK (AP) — Jeff McNeil laced his second go-ahead hit in two days Monday night, when his RBI double in the fifth inning sent the New York Mets to a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves and a doubleheader split.

Kyle Muller threw five sharp innings to earn his second big league victory in the opener, a 2-0 win for the Braves.

Under pandemic rules, each game was shortened to seven innings.

The Mets split a doubleheader in which they scored one run for the third time in franchise history and first since July 21, 1968, when New York lost the opener to the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 and won the nightcap 1-0.

“Scored one run in two games and we won one,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Fundamentals executed.”

The Mets have split nine of their 11 doubleheaders this season and swept the other two. The loss in the nightcap prevented the third-place Braves (49-51), who have yet to be above .500 this year, from reaching the break-even mark for the seventh time. They are five games behind the NL East-leading Mets.

“Two well-pitched games,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “They got a big hit and we couldn’t.”

New York squandered a first-and-third, none-out opportunity in the fourth before scoring its lone run of the day in the fifth. Brandon Nimmo led off with an infield single against Luke Jackson (1-2) and scored one out later on a double to deep center field by McNeil, who was making his first start since Wednesday.

“Hit it about as far as I could,” McNeil said with a grin. “Tough ballpark to hit in, so I was just happy it got over his head and we got the run in.”

McNeil missed games Friday and Saturday against Toronto with left leg fatigue before delivering a pinch-hit, two-run double that broke a tie in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 5-4 win. Despite the sporadic playing time, he has a career-high 13-game hitting streak dating to July 7.

Trevor May (3-2), the fourth of six Mets pitchers, threw a perfect fifth.

The Braves mounted their biggest threat in the sixth against Seth Lugo, who gave up a single to Joc Pederson and walked Ozzie Albies before Freddie Freeman flied out to the wall in left field. Austin Riley then hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Edwin Díaz struck out the side in the seventh for his 22nd save.

Mets opener Aaron Loup threw a perfect first inning.

“It’s just a big win, especially after losing the first one (and) knowing that we didn’t have a starter, that it was going to be a collective effort for everybody to get in there and shut down a good team on the other side,” Loup said.

Braves starter Bryse Wilson allowed four hits in three-plus innings.

In the first game, the 23-year-old Muller (2-3) gave up four hits and walked two while striking out three. He allowed the Mets to advance just two runners as far as second base as he lowered his ERA to 2.55 in six games (five starts).

“The thing I’ve noticed about him is he’s got a lot of confidence,” Snitker said. “I don’t feel that he gets caught up in the moment there a little bit. I think he keeps breathing and trusts his stuff.”

Tyler Matzek tossed a perfect sixth and Will Smith earned his 20th save.

Muller also helped build the Braves’ first run by singling off Marcus Stroman (7-9) in the third for his first major league hit. Pederson followed with an RBI double.

An unusual double by Dansby Swanson leading off the fourth began the Braves’ second run-scoring rally. Swanson’s shot high off the center-field wall was initially ruled a homer by second base umpire Jose Navas, but Kevin Pillar threw the ball into the infield and Swanson was tagged by shortstop Jonathan Villar as crew chief Doug Eddings overruled Navas and awarded Swanson second base.

Stephen Vogt followed with a single and Swanson scored when Orlando Arcia beat out a potential double-play grounder.

Stroman allowed two runs and eight hits with four strikeouts in five innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: LHP Drew Smyly (left knee) played catch and could still start Thursday. Smyly left Saturday’s outing after four innings due to soreness. … RHP Ian Anderson (right shoulder) threw from 120 feet and is scheduled to throw from 150 feet on Tuesday.

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (right forearm) threw again, one day after his first side session since going on the injured list July 18. Rojas said deGrom would likely throw another side soon. … RHP Carlos Carrasco (right hamstring), who pitched three scoreless innings Sunday for Triple-A Syracuse, could make his Mets debut this weekend.

UP NEXT

Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (9-3, 3.65 ERA) will look to win his fifth straight decision in the third game of the five-game series Tuesday night.

Mets: Had not announced a starter for Tuesday.

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