ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Harvey pitched six hitless innings, John Buck homered and the New York Mets held off another Atlanta comeback, beating the Braves 4-3 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
Harvey (6-1) didn’t allow a hit until Jason Heyward’s fluke infield single leading off the seventh but tired in the eighth as the Braves tried to rally for the second straight game. Trailing 4-0, Atlanta scored three runs and had the bases loaded before Bobby Parnell, the fourth Mets pitcher of the inning, fanned Chris Johnson to end the threat. Parnell earned his 10th save with a scoreless ninth.
Harvey had a career-high 13 strikeouts and surrendered just three hits.
Buck homered in the fourth. Braves rookie Alex Wood (0-1) took the loss in his first career start.
The Braves opened the five-game series against their NL East rival with the team’s 21st comeback win of the season, a rain-delayed 2-1 victory that ended at 1:22 a.m. — less than 12 hours before the start of the start of the day-night doubleheader.
Dillon Gee took a 1-0 lead to the ninth, but Freddie Freeman won it for the Braves with a two-run homer.
The Braves didn’t come close to a hit off Harvey through six innings, their only baserunners on a pair of walks in the third. Finally, Heyward reached safely on perhaps the weakest ball hit off the New York starter all day — a weak dribbler up the first-base line.
Harvey came off the mound to field it and flipped to first base, but there was no one there to catch it. Lucas Duda, making just his second start of the season at first, charged in and left the bag uncovered.
New York padded its lead with two runs in the eighth, just enough to hold off the Braves. In the bottom half, Gerald Laird led off with a walk, Dan Uggla reached on a bad-hop single and Andrelton Simmons knocked out Harvey with Atlanta’s first clean hit, a sharp single between shortstop and third base.
Pinch-hitter Brian McCann struck out against LaTroy Hawkins, but Jordan Schafer singled in two runs to make it 4-2. Another pinch-hitter, Justin Upton, grounded into a forceout to leave runners at first and third before the Mets made another pitching change, bringing on towering lefty Scott Rice to face Heyward.
Heyward lined a double off Duda’s glove to make it 4-3. After Rice intentionally walked Freeman, Parnell struck out Johnson.
The Braves struck out 16 times in all.
Harvey finally got a little run support from the Mets, who had scored only 18 runs in his previous 10 starts while he was in the game. Largely because of that, he had eight no-decisions in a stretch of nine appearances before the hard-luck 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in his previous appearance, snapping a stretch of 14 consecutive starts without a loss dating to his final appearance of 2012.
New York stretched its lead to 4-0 with a pair of runs in the eighth off David Carpenter. Pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin walked with the bases loaded, and Omar Quintanilla followed with a sacrifice fly.
Another touted Mets prospect, Zack Wheeler, was scheduled to make his debut in the nightcap as New York showed off what it hopes will be the future cornerstones of its long rebuilding job.
While Wheeler is expected to head back to the minors for more seasoning, Harvey is already one of the NL’s most dominant starters in his first full season. He eclipsed his previous career high of 12 strikeouts in a May 7 game against the Chicago White Sox.
The free-swinging Braves couldn’t do against Harvey, looking especially feeble during a stretch that began when Reid Johnson struck out to end the third. Harvey fanned the side in the fourth — Heyward, Freeman and Chris Johnson — before starting the fifth with two more Ks by Laird and Dan Uggla. Simmons finally ended the streak of six straight strikeouts with a groundout.
All six hitters in the stretch went down swinging.
The Mets broke through in the third against Wood after the rookie struck out the first two hitters. Daniel Murphy singled to left and moved to second on a balk. David Wright walked and Marlon Byrd hit a grounder to Chris Johnson at third. After making a nifty grab on a tricky hop, Johnson looked toward second for a split second before throwing to first.
Byrd beat the throw and Murphy never stopped running, coming all the way around to score from second on what ruled an infield hit.
Wood, who had been pitching out of the Atlanta bullpen, struggled a bit with his control. He was lifted after throwing 73 pitches in just three innings, having allowed just two hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Cory Rasmus took over in the fourth, and the Mets quickly extended their lead. Buck led off with his 12th homer of the season into the left-field seats.