Pierzynski, Simmons lead Braves past Mets

Braves2A.J. Pierzynski finished a home run shy of the cycle and ignited the two-run sixth-inning that enabled the Braves to overcome the two solo home runs Williams Perez surrendered during Saturday night’s 6-4 win over the Mets at Turner Field.  Pierzynski opened the sixth inning by bouncing an opposite-field double past third base. After Andrelton Simmons and Eury Perez followed with consecutive singles, Pedro Ciriaco provided a go-ahead sacrifice fly that scored Pierzynski only after Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud dropped the ball and injured his left elbow while applying the tag on Pierzynski’s knee.
The Mets tallied four hits during a two-run first inning and benefited from the solo home runs Curtis Granderson and d’Arnaud hit off Perez in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively. But New York’s bullpen was not able to pick up starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who allowed four runs — three earned — while throwing 88 pitches over four innings.
With victories in the first two games of this three-game set, the Braves claimed their first series victory since May 24 and moved within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Mets in the National League East.
Pierzynski began his three-hit night in the second inning with a one-out triple that put him in position to score when Simmons began his four-hit night with an RBI single. The 38-year-old catcher singled and scored in the two-run fourth that included Eury Perez notching his first career RBI on an infield single. After Pierzynski began the sixth by sneaking his double down the line, the Braves gained more fortune when Simmons blooped a single to shallow right and Eury Perez chopped an infield single off the plate.
For the second time in as many days, middle infield defense proved costly for the Mets. During the third inning with no outs, Braves second baseman Jace Peterson attempted to steal second base. Peterson — who was 7-for-14 in stolen base attempts before Saturday’s game — had no problem being safe on this occasion, as neither New York middle infielder moved to cover the bag and receive d’Arnaud’s throw. With the ball out in center field, Peterson had no problem jogging to third base and later scoring on Cameron Maybin’s RBI groundout to second base to tie the game.
Williams Perez looked like he was in trouble when he needed 30 pitches to complete the first inning. But the Braves right-hander then proceeded to retire 13 of the next 14 batters he faced before surrendering Granderson’s solo shot in the fifth. d’Arnaud’s leadoff homer in the sixth inning served as the final damage incurred by the starter, who entered the fifth inning having allowed just two homers over the previous 43 1/3 innings he had completed this season.
Mets catcher d’Arnaud left the game with an elbow injury after a collision at the plate with Braves catcher Pierzynski in the sixth inning. After X-rays during the game came back negative, it was determined that he hyperextended his elbow and is day to day.
Matt Harvey will take the mound on Sunday for the Mets in the finale of this three-game series. In Harvey’s one other start at Turner Field (on June 18, 2013), he won a 4-3 game and struck out 13 Atlanta hitters in the process. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. CT here on Thunder Radio.  Atlanta will counter with Julio Teheran, who has struggled to rekindle the success he had during his previous two Major League seasons. Teheran has posted a 5.68 ERA in the 12 starts he has made since limiting the Mets to one run over six innings on April 11.