ATLANTA -- One out away from a routine ninth inning and comfortable win, the New York Mets made their manager suffer a bit.
"I was struggling. I probably aged two more years, got five or six more gray hairs," Manuel said after the Mets held off the Braves 4-3 on Tuesday night to complete a rare series sweep at Turner Field.The Mets led 4-1 with two out and nobody on in the ninth, before the Braves put a couple runners on against closer Francisco Rodriguez. Then Carlos Delgado lost hold of Omar Infante's routine popup and it led to two unearned runs.Delgado's error allowed Kelly Johnson to score from second. Yunel Escobar, who had three hits, followed with a run-scoring single to cut the lead to 4-3.That brought up Chipper Jones, who has 40 career homers against the Mets. But he flied out to right field to end the game and give K-Rod his seventh save."That would have been a difficult deal," Manuel said about the narrow escape.Said Delgado: "It wasn't pretty, but we got it."Delgado had no explanation for the drop. "I really don't know," he said. "The only thing I can tell you is I missed it, I clanked it, whatever."Delgado had two hits, including a two-run single in the ninth, following a throwing error by Jones to make it 4-1.Livan Hernandez earned only his fourth win in 25 career starts against Atlanta. It was equally notable for the Mets to win two games for their first sweep of any series in Atlanta since taking a three-game set in 2007. It was their first sweep of a two-game series in Atlanta since May 1-2, 1989.David Wright and Ramon Castro had run-scoring doubles in the third inning off Kenshin Kawakami (1-4), who lost his fourth straight start.Hernandez (2-1) gave up seven hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings. He improved to 4-15 in his career against the Braves with his first win against Atlanta since June 5, 2006 while with the Nationals.Hernandez said he relied on his changeup when he had some problems with his sinker."I got a little more old and the changeup is better, I don't know why," said the 34-year-old Hernandez, who threw only 75 pitches.Hernandez was helped by three double plays which ended the third, fourth and sixth innings."When he is on his game, he can induce you into double plays," Manuel said. "That keeps his pitch count down."He has great command. If he continues to pitch that way, he will be a tremendous starter for us."Rodriguez earned his seventh save.The Mets, who went 1-8 in Atlanta last season, pulled off the sweep in their first visit to Turner Field this season.The Braves (11-15) fell a season-worst four games below .500."It's frustrating beyond belief," Jones said. "It's something we've got to try and fight through and keep playing. We're not quitting. We're playing hard."Eventually some good things have got to start happening. We can't be this unlucky this long."Manuel brought in right-hander Bobby Parnell after Hernandez gave up a single to Jeff Francoeur and a walk to Jordan Schafer with one out in the seventh. Parnell struck out pinch-hitter Greg Norton before giving up Martin Prado's RBI double.The Mets stretched their lead off Mike Gonzalez in the ninth. Jose Reyes singled and advanced to third on Jones' wild throw to second after fielding Daniel Murphy's grounder. Following an intentional walk to Carlos Beltran, Delgado's single up the middle drove in Reyes and Murphy.Beltran had two hits and scored a run.Beltran's third-inning single gave him a career-best 16-game hitting streak. He has reached base in each of the Mets' 25 games, leaving him tied with Kevin McReynolds for the second-longest streak to open a season in Mets history.
Umpire Marty Foster was sick and missed the game. Damien Beal filled in as the second base umpire. ... New York's John Olerud set a team record by reaching base in 30 consecutive games to open the 1999 season. ... Braves LF Garret Anderson came off the disabled list and was 0-for-4 as the Braves' cleanup hitter. He is hitting .172.