7,603: Wagner fires up crowd, but Mets’ comeback falls short

Welcome back Billy!

Billy Wagner’s return fired up the Citi Field crowd, but the Mets’ comeback fell short Thursday night as the Braves topped New York 3-2.

Wagner, who hasn’t thrown a pitch in a Major League game since last August, retired the side in the eighth inning by throwing 95- and 96-mph pitches for two strikeouts. He walked in to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” and walked off to a standing ovation.

But the Mets could manage just one run in the bottom of the eighth, leaving the potential tying run – Fernando Tatis – stranded at second.

Mets starter Johan Santana lost his no-hitter in the third inning when Adam LaRoche led off with a double down the right-field line, advancing our NoNoHitters.com count up to 7,603 New York Mets games without a no-no.

And as usual, the first hit led to the first run(s).

Ryan Church followed with his own double to make it 1-0, and after Braves’ pitcher Kenshin Kawakami sacrificed him over to third, Omar Infante sent him home on a sacrifice fly.

The Mets got one back in the bottom half of the inning when Cory Sullivan singled home Luis Castillo, but Brian McCann blasted a homer into the Pepsi Porch in the top of the fourth to restablish the two-run lead.

Santana left after giving up three runs on nine hits and no walks in seven innings of work.

The Mets got one back in the bottom of the eighth when Jeff Francoeur reached first on a Chipper Jones throwing error, Tatis walked and pinch-hitter Omir Santos singled home Francoeur, but the inning ended on an Anderson Hernandez ground out.

Luis Castillo’s two-out single in the bottom of the ninth provided a glimmer of hope, but Daniel Murphy popped up the first pitch he saw to end the game.

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