The Atlanta Braves and New York Mets finally finished their marathon of three games in just under 24 hours Tuesday night at Turner Field, but the Braves were on the short end of a 6-1 final in the Major League debut of Zack Wheeler.
Wheeler was effectively wild, giving up no runs over six innings and striking out seven but walking five. Despite Andrelton Simmons actually acting like a lead-off man by drawing two walks and acquiring two hits, the Braves weren't able to bring him in with Wheeler on the mound.
The Braves' prime chance to score came in the sixth inning when B.J. Upton singled and Brian McCann walked with one out. That threat was quickly ended when Dan Uggla struck out and Chris Johnson popped out.
"It was exhausting," Simmons said on braves.com. "I'm just glad it's over with. We'll get some rest and get ready for tomorrow's game."
It was another case of no support for Braves starting pitchers, this time for Paul Maholm. After the Braves squandered their opportunity, Maholm took his only damage with an Anthony Recker two-run homer in the seventh on a 3-1 count, though Maholm felt his strike zone got squeezed by home plate umpire Paul Schrieber.
"I struck him out," Maholm said. "Three of the pitches were strikes and then I've got to throw it 3-1. Obviously, I didn't make a good pitch. But you've got to look at it that there were three pitches that were strikes. He took advantage of getting into a hitter's count."
Other than the homer, Maholm was sharp, striking out seven and facing the minimum through three innings thanks to a couple of timely double plays. Regardless, he still had some harsh words for Schrieber.
"The first few innings, I was making pitches and getting calls," Maholm said. "Then a couple innings later, I was making the same exact pitches and they weren't called. It's part of the game. You've got to deal with the strike zone day to day and see what they are calling. The first few innings, they were strikes, and later on, they weren't."
The wheels would fall off in the eighth inning when Anthony Varvaro gave up four runs on four hits, two errors and a walk, all with two outs.
The Braves, who went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, scored their only run in the bottom of the seventh with runners on second and third with one out. Justin Upton hit a sacrifice fly to score Jordan Schafer, but the Mets intentionally walked Freddie Freeman, his third of the game, to get B.J. Upton to ground out.
"We definitely had chances to score runs and we didn't do anything about it," Simmons said. "We'll just try to forget about it and try to come out tomorrow and do it."
Atlanta still has two more games Wednesday and Thursday against the Mets.
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