The road back to production continued for Brian McCann on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, when he hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to lead the Atlanta Braves in a sweep of the New York Mets in a 3-2 final.
The sac fly was McCann's sixth RBI in two games after he had just two in all of August and second of the day, following a solo homer in the sixth inning off Chris Young.
Martin Prado stared the 10th inning with a lead-off single off Bobby Parnell. Parnell would walk Dan Uggla with one out to load the bases for McCann, who shot a line drive to the warning track in right field for the go-ahead sac fly.
Fredi Gonzalez also managed outside the box in the ninth inning when he used Craig Kimbrel with the game tied 2-2. Kimbrel worked through an Ike Davis lead-off single by striking out Lucas Duda and Kelly Shoppach before getting Andres Torres to ground out.
The Braves then brough in Peter Moylan to get his first save since 2010 in the bottom of the 10th, and Moylan was all on board with the move.
"It's a smart move when you think about it," Moylan said. "They've got their [big] hitters coming up. Some people say the toughest inning to throw can be the seventh or eighth inning because you're coming up against their [key] guys. I thought it was a perfect move, and it worked out well for me, too."
Gonzalez was also quick to acknowledge the risk involved, though he didn't seem to be converted to the school of thought to use a team's closer late in the game against the heart of the opponent's lineup.
"It's the first time I've done it, bringing in the closer on the road in a tie game," Gonzalez said. "We felt that with our pitching matchups later in the game, that was the game right there and we took advantage. Does it make my toes tingle, doing that? I don't know."
More importantly, the Braves seem to be rediscovering their stride in September with enough momentum to likely avoid the 9-18 record they accumulated a year ago that led to the 9 1/2-game collapse. McCann's two homers and double over the final two games of the series were his first extra-base hits since July 31, and Uggla finished the series 6-for-11 with two doubles and a home run after being removed from the lineup earlier in the week for three games.
"We're taking no game lightly, no lead lightly," McCann said. "We're going to play this thing strong throughout the rest of the way, hopefully into the postseason and beyond that, because we're a really good team."
Tommy Hanson finally regained the command on his fastball and retired the first 10 men he faced before giving up an RBI double to Davis in the fourth. The Mets finally chased him with two outs in the sixth inning when Daniel Murphy and David Wright swapped places on back-to-back doubles.
Chipper Jones was limited to a pinch-hit appearance in his final game in New York due to his balky knees, but when he was replaced by Reed Johnson after drawing a walk, the crowd that had made booing him a habit over the years gave him a standing ovation as he exited, tipping his helmet on the way. Jones was also tasked by Gonzalez to take out the lineup cards before the game.
“Usually if we’ve lost two or three in a row, [Gonzalez] will come up to me and ask me to take the lineup card out," Jones said. "I’ve done it a handful of times this year. It seemed fitting today. Nice reception, especially right over the top of our dugout walking off the field. So that was nice.”
The Braves maintained their two-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals, who beat the Milwaukee Brewers in another 10-inning game. Atlanta also climbed to 5 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East with the Washington Nationals' loss to the Miami Marlins.
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