Oliver Perez gave the New York Mets a solid start. David Wright provided a healthy dose of offense.
The Mets’ bullpen … well, it did what it has done a lot this year: wasted it.
The Atlanta Braves scored five ninth-innings run Sunday to beat the Mets 7-4. That’s the 27th blown save this year – 11 in the ninth alone. And with Philadelphia’s doubleheader sweep of Milwaukee, the Phillies are now just a single game back in the N.L. East standings.
The Mets had a 4-2 lead heading into the ninth and called upon Luis Ayala to close it, but he came in and gave up two singles and a pinch-hit homer to Greg Norton to hand the Braves a 5-4 lead. Pedro Feliciano was handed the ball and retired his first batter, but he then gave up a walk, a single and a double which let the Braves pad the lead.
Wright (4-for-5, three RBIs, two homers) and Carlos Delgado (3-for-5) singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth, but the Mets didn’t have a comeback in them.
Perez pitched well, giving up two earned runs over seven innings on four hits and three walks while striking out eight. (He lost his no-hitter in the first when Chipper Jones singled to right, making it 7,468 games without a Mets no-hitter.)
Scott Schoeneweis and Joe Smith took care of the eighth, but the Mets’ bullpen simply doesn’t seem to have enough depth to cover too many innings. Starters from here on out should plan on going eight innings at a minimum. Nine is preferred.
The good news is the Braves are playing well and they’ll face the Phillies six times before the end of the season. I never thought I’d say this, but GO BRAVES!