" Hero: Johnson hit two homers to help the Braves win their second series against the Mets.
" Goats: The Mets' bullpen coughed up a three-run lead as Scott Schoeneweis and Aaron Heilman allowed crushing home runs.
" Figure this: Bobby Cox was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes. It was Cox's 127th
ejection, four behind John McGraw's record.
" Quotable: "That was one of the most exciting ones I've seen between the
Braves and the Mets." -- Johnson
" Elias Says: Tom Glavine has now allowed a home run to the first batter of the game in each of his last two home appearances. In 80 career regular-season starts at Shea Stadium prior to that, Glavine had allowed only one home run to lead off the first inning.
-- ESPN.com news services
Braves 9, Mets 6
NEW YORK (AP) -- Kelly Johnson stood in front of his locker,
wrapped in just a towel, his eyes bright with excitement.
"That was one of the most exciting ones I've seen between the
Braves and the Mets," he said. "It's only April. And if that's
something to look forward to for the rest of the year, it could be
pretty exciting. I have a feeling that we're going to change hands
at the top of the division many more times."
Johnson homered on Tom Glavine's first pitch of the game, then
hit a tiebreaking, three-run drive off Aaron Heilman in the eighth
inning. The first multihomer game of his career sent Atlanta to a
9-6 victory over New York on Sunday, and for the second time in
three weekends the Braves took two of three from the Mets.
A sellout crowd of 55,671 came out on a sunny spring afternoon
to watch Glavine face John Smoltz, his golfing buddy and former
teammate. What was a pitcher's duel through five innings turned
into a battle of bats. Jose Reyes' three-run triple in the sixth
put Glavine and the Mets ahead, but Edgar Renteria erased a 6-3
deficit in the seventh with a three-run homer off Scott Schoeneweis.
Johnson went 3-for-4, making him 13-for-25 (.520) for the week -- and that included an 0-for-4 performance Saturday in which he
struck out four times against Oliver Perez, an afternoon that left
him wondering whether he would be in Sunday's lineup.
"I was happy to see my name up there, that's for sure,"
Johnson said. "I wasn't entirely expecting it."
After three weeks, the first-place Braves (12-6) have a
half-game lead in the NL East over the Mets (11-6), who last year
ended Atlanta's run of consecutive division titles at 14.
"I don't think it's too early for any kind of signature win,"
Smoltz said. "We were going to lose this game. For all the ways
they scored in the sixth inning, it just looked like it was too
much for us to come back. And for us to come back and win this game
was just a tribute to everybody's effort to not give in and not
Chipper Jones wouldn't go that far.
"Smoltzie plays once every fifth day," he said. "It's a nice
win, don't get me wrong. A signature win? Possibly. Maybe later on,
down the road, you look back and say it was."
When Reyes tripled, it appeared Glavine was on the way to
victory No. 294.
"I don't know if the sting you feel is shock or disappointment
over not winning the game," Glavine said. "I think anytime you
have a game like that, it hurts."
Glavine allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings, while
Smoltz gave up six runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. Their
competitiveness showed in the fifth, when Glavine hit a bouncer
near the third-base line. Smoltz sprinted off the mound, made a
barehanded pickup and an off-balance throw just before crossing
into foul territory to retire Glavine at first.
"It's probably my best play, ever," Smoltz said.
Glavine shot his friend a look as he walked back to the dugout,
muttered to himself, smiled and looked at Smoltz again.
"I was mad at him, that he made it, but I wasn't surprised,"
Johnson's first homer was offset by Shawn Green's fifth-inning
shot. Jeff Francoeur's two-run single in the sixth put Atlanta
Singles by Carlos Delgado and Moises Alou and a one-out walk to
Green loaded the bases in the bottom half. Atlanta manager Bobby
Cox was ejected for arguing ball four to Green. It was Cox's 127th
ejection, four behind John McGraw's record, according to the
But with two outs and none on in the bottom half, pinch-hitter
Scott Thorman hit a catchable drive to right against Ambiorix
Burgos that Green jumped for and allowed to tick off his glove for
"It's frustrating, a play that you know you're capable of
making and have it go off the glove and come back to haunt the
team," Green said.
Schoeneweis walked Johnson and allowed Renteria's homer.
"You could just see kind of the air being sucked out a little
bit from the Mets," Smoltz said.
Francoeur began the eighth with a soft liner off the end of his
bat that handcuffed Valentin. The second baseman let it fall, and
it spun past him for an error that would make all the runs in the
Heilman (1-2) hit Craig Wilson with a pitch, and Johnson homered
into the right-field bullpen with two outs.
Ex-Met Tyler Yates (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh, Rafael
Soriano retired Lo Duca with two on to end the eighth and Bob
Wickman retired Green on a grounder with two in the ninth for his
sixth save in six chances.
"These are the games you're probably going to need late in the
year," Valentin said. "You can't afford to lose games like
Mets 3B David Wright was 0-for-4 with two called strikeouts
and is hitless in 12 at-bats following a 26-game hitting streak
that dated to last year. ... Atlanta's Brian McCann was hit on his
left ring finger and pinkie while trying to bunt against Pedro Feliciano in the ninth. X-rays were negative.