No National League hitter has been worse with runners in scoring position this season than the Braves’ B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla, but both came through in the 10th inning Saturday in the conclusion of a suspended game.
Uggla broke a tie with an RBI single, and Upton put down a squeeze bunt to bring in the final run of the Braves’ 7-5 series-opening win, extending their winning streak to seven games. The game was suspended after eight innings Friday because of rain and picked up in the ninth inning.
Closer Craig Kimbrel worked out of a 10th-inning jam to convert his 15th save. The game was completed before the regularly scheduled Saturday night game.
Kimbrel hit the leadoff batter and gave up a single to .143-hitting Ike Davis, then got Ruben Tejada on a popped bunt and induced a game-ending double-play grounder by Justin Turner.
“I’m glad we were able to finish it off in 10 innings and get the ‘W’,” Gonzalez said during the 30-minute break between games.
Uggla and Freddie Freeman hit home runs in the Friday portion of the game, and Evan Gattis had a two-run, pinch-hit single in the eighth inning that gave the Braves a 5-3 lead. Reliever Anthony Varvaro gave up the lead in driving rain in the bottom of the eighth and play was suspended with the score tied.
When play resumed, the Braves got a leadoff double from Ramiro Pena in the ninth. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, and Jason Heyward walked to put two on with one out before Justin Upton grounded into a double play.
Varvaro (2-0) returned to pitch a perfect ninth inning Saturday, and the Braves put together another scoring opportunity in the 10th after Freeman’s leadoff walk and a Brian McCann double on an 0-2 pitch. Uggla followed with a broken-bat RBI single to left for the lead, and B.J. Upton squeeze-bunted with one out to score pinch-runner Jordan Schafer.
Upton was a majors-worst 2-for-29 (.069) with runners in scoring position after the completed game, and Uggla was 2-for-27 (.074) in those situations before Saturday.
“Two big hits for Danny, the home run yesterday to tie it, and then the go-ahead winning run,” Gonzalez said. “Big knock there, after we squandered an opportunity the (ninth) inning.”
Gonzalez said the squeeze bunt wasn’t called from the dugout. “It was B.J. trying to get another run, and he had the right guy at third base, Schafer, and he was heads-up and able to score a run there.”
Varvaro said it was impossible to get a good grip on the ball in the eighth inning, but Gonzalez didn’t have a problem with umpires allowing play to continue. The Mets scored a run on Daniel Murphy’s two-out single that Upton misplayed in center, allowing a runner to advance to third.
They scored the tying run when that runner scored on a wild pitch that skipped across the wet dirt past McCann.
If the game had been stopped after the top half of the eighth inning, it would’ve been resumed from that point, since the Braves scored the go-ahead runs in the top of the inning.
“That’s the protocol, try to keep playing and finish the inning,” Gonzalez said. “And give the home team either a chance to come back in the bottom of the inning or us to make three outs. I thought it would benefit us, because we had the lead.”
Gattis again: When Gattis hit a game-tying pinch-hit homer with two out in the ninth Tuesday against the Twins, Freeman called the rookie catcher’s early pinch-hitting prowess “incomprehensible,” and said he’d come to expect it.
Gattis came through again Friday with two-out pinch single in the eighth inning. He was 4-for-7 with three homers and nine RBIs in his past five games before Saturday, when he started the regularly scheduled game in left field, his seventh start at that position.
He was hitting .262 with 10 homers and a team-high 29 RBIs in only 122 at-bats, and was is 5-for-7 with a double, three homers and eight RBIs as a pinch-hitter. He led major-league pinch-hitters in average, homers and RBIs. That’s a rookie excelling in a role usually the domain of veteran “professional hitters.”
“It’s almost better (to have him) as a pinch-hitter because you can use him anywhere you want to,” Gonzalez said.
Etc.: Andrelton Simmons made his first error when he bounced a throw in the seventh inning Friday. He was the last National League regular shortstop without an error. … The suspended game was the first in Mets franchise history and the first for the Braves since April 5, 1997, when the second game played at Turner Field was suspended in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Braves won 11-5 when it was completed the following day.