ATLANTA — The Mets’ habit of hitting the snooze button repeatedly to start games has been costly, but then there is that jolt and the inevitable late-inning drama.
Call it resiliency or just the reality of facing underwhelming bullpens. Even when the Mets appear finished, just wait for the later innings.
Tuesday night it worked out. The Mets’ two big lineup additions last offseason, James McCann and Francisco Lindor, tag-teamed to drive in all the runs in a breakout seventh inning that led a 4-3 victory over the Braves at Truist Park.
The Mets snapped a two-game skid and remained three games ahead of the Nationals in the NL East. The Braves, who have won three straight division titles, are 5 ½ games behind.
Lindor had looked ugly at the plate in his previous two at-bats, strikeouts against Charlie Morton, but put the Mets ahead with an RBI single in the seventh against A.J. Minter, following Jose Peraza’s pinch-hit double.
McCann took a desperate situation earlier in the inning and turned it into something palatable, lofting a three-run homer that tied it 3-3 and ended Morton’s scoreless streak at 20 innings. Dominic Smith singled leading off the inning for the Mets’ fifth hit and Kevin Pillar walked to give the Mets their first rally. McCann jumped on a 1-2 cutter and just cleared the fence in left-center for his seventh homer of the season.
The Mets’ futility has been worst in the early innings. Over their last six games, they have scored only once before the seventh inning. That came on Saturday, when they scored a run in the second inning against the Phillies.
With their key relievers rested, the Mets were in position to preserve the lead. Trevor May, Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz each worked a scoreless inning after Drew Smith had pitched a shutout sixth to keep the Braves’ lead at 3-0. Diaz’s save was his 17th in 18 chances this season. Ehire Adrianza nearly took Diaz out of the yard to begin the inning, but his shot to right field was ruled just outside the foul pole. Adrianza, Pablo Sandoval and Ronald Acuna Jr. were retired in order.
Tylor Megill, in his second major league start, allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over five innings. The right-hander took a shutout into the fifth, but then received a gut punch.
The third time through the batting order became Megill’s undoing. After retiring the No. 8 and 9 hitters to begin the fifth, Acuna and Freddie Freeman delivered consecutive singles. Ozzie Albies followed with a three-run homer that placed the Mets in a 3-0 hole.
Megill escaped trouble in the second, when the Braves received a leadoff single from Austin Riley and Guillermo Heredia walked with one out. Megill retired Abraham Almonte, before Dominic Smith’s diving catch on William Contreras’ sinking line drive ended the inning.
Michael Conforto’s single in the fourth was the Mets’ first hit against Morton. The right-hander also allowed a single to Luis Guillorme in the fifth, before retiring Megill. Jeff McNeil singled leading off the sixth, but Lindor and Conforto struck out before Pete Alonso was retired.