Mets Push Braves Further Back in 5-1 Win

ATLANTA (AP) -- Earlier this season, the losses kept piling up for Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey. Called up Saturday to start against the Braves in the midst of a tight pennant race, the young right-hander turned it all around.

Pelfrey allowed one hit in six innings to win his first game of the season after seven losses, and Carlos Delgado, Lastings Milledge and Carlos Beltran each hit solo home runs to help the New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 5-1 on Saturday.

The Mets won their second in a row in Atlanta after getting swept in four games at Philadelphia. The Braves lost for the eighth time in their last 11 games to fall 6 1/2 behind the Mets in the NL East. Atlanta began the day 5 1/2 back in the wild-card race.

Asked about pitching in an important game at Atlanta, where the Mets were 18-35 since 2002 coming into Saturday, the 23-year-old Pelfrey shrugged.

"I really didn't think about that. I've had a rough year. I was just trying to do my best," he said.

Pelfrey (1-7), recalled from Triple-A New Orleans prior to the game, struck out seven, a career high for the second-year pitcher. He walked three, and the only hit was a clean single to right in the fourth by Mark Teixeira.

"You can't forget he's a young kid. He's still learning how to pitch and is in a growing phase," said Mets manager Willie Randolph. "This, in some cases, could actually be a good experience, dealing with adversity. I'm happy for him to get his first one under his belt."

Atlanta finished with two hits. The other was a single in the seventh by Jeff Francoeur off Guillermo Mota.

Pelfrey ended an eight-game losing streak. He was 2-1 with the Mets last season, won his first two games -- the last on July 18 -- before losing on July 23 to Houston. He pitched only 22 innings for New York in 2006.

"He was electric," said Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca. "He was aggressive from the outset. It was the best stuff I'd caught in a long time."

The only run off Pelfrey came in the fifth without a hit. He hit Francoeur with a pitch and then walked Andruw Jones and pinch-hitter Scott Thorman, loading the bases. Willie Harris followed with a sacrifice fly.

Randolph went to the mound after the walk to Thorman.

New York Mets' Carlos Beltran (15) is greeted by teammate Paul Lo Duca (16) after scoring against the Atlanta Braves on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Delgado during the ninth inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007, at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Mets won 5-1.
AP - Sep 1, 7:36 pm EDT
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"He just came out to give me a breather. I took a little time to refocus. I just took a deep breath, tried to relax and make pitches," Pelfrey said.

The Braves could hardly afford a listless performance against the team they're trailing in the East. Atlanta is slumping, and with 26 games remaining only a major turnaround will get them into the playoffs.

"At a certain point in the season, there's no season left," said Teixeira.

Said Francoeur: "It's absolutely a lost weekend."

The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the second when Beltran led off with a single and took third on a single by Moises Alou. Beltran scored when Delgado hit into a double play.

Delgado, who hit a three-run home run in Friday night's 7-1 win, hit his 21st home run in the fifth and one out later Milledge hit his fourth, both off Atlanta starter Chuck James (9-10). Beltran, who went 3-for-4 and scored three times, hit his 26th in the seventh off reliever Manny Acosta.

Delgado added a sacrifice fly in the ninth, scoring Beltran, who had tripled.

James went five innings. He gave up five hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out one. The left-hander was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game.

Notes

The Mets got some good news before the game when it was announced that RHP Pedro Martinez would start on Monday at Cincinnati. He has been sidelined all season after rotator cuff surgery last October. ... Jose Reyes singled and stole his major league-leading 74th stolen base in the sixth, then promptly got picked off by RHP Manny Acosta. New York pinch-hitter Ruben Gotay also was picked off second in the eighth. ... New York C Paul Lo Duca was thrown out at second in the fifth inning by left-fielder Willie Harris,s trying to stretch a single into a double. Milledge followed with his homer. ...Francoeur had some words for Pelfrey when he was hit by a pitch in the fifth.


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