ATLANTA (AP) -- The New York Mets prevented Atlanta from properly
celebrating its 11th straight division championship.
Apparently, that ticked off the Braves.
Andruw Jones homered twice and pinch-hitters drove in five runs as Atlanta overcame a five-run deficit to beat the Mets 12-6 Tuesday night.
The Braves, who have baseball's best record, missed a chance to clinch themselves by losing Sunday to Montreal. They were idle Monday when the Mets rallied to beat Philadelphia, handing the Braves the NL East title.
Champagne was waiting at each player's locker after Tuesday's game, but no one popped a cork.
``The first one doesn't really matter,'' said Jones, who became the 11th player in NL history to homer in four straight at-bats. ``We knew we were going to win the division with the lead we had. Hopefully, we'll keep going right through the playoffs.''
The Braves have a 21-game lead over second-place Florida.
Jones homered twice Saturday against Montreal, then was beaned
in the head. He returned to the lineup Tuesday and didn't flinch a
bit, going deep his first two times up.
``He's really staying in on the ball good,'' manager Bobby Cox
said. ``It's a pleasure to see him hit when he stays in like
Jones became the second NL player this season to homer in four
straight at-bats. Shawn Green of Los Angeles accomplished the feat
Also, Seattle's Mike Cameron homered four straight times in an
AL game May 2.
Trey Hodges (1-0) earned the win in his big league debut. Mets
starter Pedro Astacio (12-9) gave up four homers and was ejected in
the fifth inning after he plunked Gary Sheffield in the arm with a
``Just play the game right,'' said Sheffield, who glared at the
pitcher but didn't charge the mound. ``I'm not going out there. I'm
not going to miss any games. If he wants to face Chipper (Jones)
with men on base, more power to him. I'll take it every time.''
Astacio insisted that he didn't try to hit Sheffield, though he
didn't complain about getting tossed. Maybe he was shell-shocked
from all those homers.
``Every home run they hit, the ball was right over the plate,''
Astacio said. ``Every year, I don't feel so strong the last month
of the season.''
The Braves acknowledged their division title before the game,
showing season highlights on the video board and unveiling a 2002
pennant alongside the 10 others that have been won since 1991.
Moss gave up four more runs in the second, including a mammoth
homer by Mike Piazza. The left-hander was lifted for a pinch-hitter
in the bottom half, leaving him with the shortest start of his
``You can't pitch in the big leagues with one pitch,'' Moss said. ``The only pitch I could get over was the changeup.''
Moss retired the next two hitters, but Cedeno and Raul Gonzalez
followed with run-scoring singles and Piazza hit a 434-foot drive
into the left-field seats for his 28th homer, a two-run shot.
Chipper Jones picked up that hit right away, looking skyward to
follow the flight of the ball without moving a step.
But the Braves responded as if they were mad at the Mets for
stopping their celebration. They put up three runs in the bottom
half on Andruw Jones' first homer and pinch-hitter Keith Lockhart's
two-out, two-run double.
Edgardo Alfonzo drove in a run against Hodges in the fourth,
giving the Mets a 6-3 lead, but the Braves tied it with three solo
homers in their half.
After Julio Franco led off the fifth with a single, Astacio hit Sheffield in the left arm with a fastball. Plate umpire Tony Randazzo immediately tossed the right-hander.
Chipper Jones singled to load the bases and Andruw Jones singled
in two runs, ending his homer streak but putting the Braves ahead
Andruw Jones homered in his first two at-bats against Montreal
on Saturday, then was hit in the helmet with a pitch by Tomo Ohka.
Jones left the game and didn't play Sunday because of puffiness
around his left eye and cheek.
Astacio was the second pitcher in three games to be ejected
for throwing at the Braves. Ohka was tossed Saturday. ... Cedeno
hit the fourth leadoff homer of his career. ... DeRosa entered
after Marcus Giles bruised his left collarbone trying to catch an
errant throw in the second. X-rays were negative.