DJ Stewart snaps hitless streak with game-winning homer as Mets defeat Braves

ATLANTA — The solar eclipse passed and then the Mets began the rocket-launching party.

Brandon Nimmo sent two baseballs toward orbit as part of his wow performance Monday night, but the decisive liftoff belonged to DJ Stewart.

The Braves should have covered their eyes.

Stewart’s two-run homer in the eighth gave the Mets their final lead in a wild 8-7 comeback victory over the Braves before 37,538 at Truist Park on a night the franchise celebrated the 50th anniversary of Hank Aaron eclipsing Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record.

Stewart, hitless in his first 12 at-bats to begin the season as he came to the plate in the eighth, cleared the center-field fence against Pierce Johnson after Nimmo had tied the game twice, with homers in the fifth and seventh.

Mets outfielder DJ Stewart (29) hits a two-run home run in the eighth inning. AP

“It felt like a postseason atmosphere,” Stewart said. “I have never played in the postseason, but I can imagine that is what it is like. It was really cool to see the whole team battling … it took the whole team.”

Nimmo, who stroked a single in the eighth that gave his team an eighth run, finished 4-for-4 with five RBIs as the Mets won for the fourth time in five games.

“They are a really great team,” Nimmo said. “They never quit. They have really good hitters over there. They are a really good team and you are just trying to keep them down as long as you can.”

Brandon Nimmo rounds the bases after his homer in the seventh inning of the Mets’ win Monday. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con
Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies (1) tags out New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) to complete a double play during the first inning. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves rallied for one run in the eighth, but Drew Smith with the bases loaded got Austin Riley to hit into an inning-ending fielder’s choice before Jorge Lopez (with Edwin Diaz unavailable due to recent workload) survived the ninth inning for the save.

Manager Carlos Mendoza later indicated that Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley were also unavailable.

It took only one game between the NL East rivals for Mendoza, a rookie manager, to capture the essence of Mets-Braves.

“This is the big leagues and I’ve been in a lot of games with big rivalries,” Mendoza said. “And now with the Mets and Braves, a great atmosphere and the fans are into it and that’s a very good ballclub there. The boys showed up today.”

In the bottom of the ninth, Matt Olson delivered a leadoff double against Lopez and scored on a single by Michael Harris II with one out.

Mets’ Brandon Nimmo celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run. AP

Harris stole second but was left stranded as Lopez retired Orlando Arcia and Travis d’Arnaud.

But the Mets also eluded danger earlier in the inning as Tyrone Taylor’s leaping catch near the top of the left-field fence robbed Marcell Ozuna of at least an extra-base hit.

“A big moment in the game where things can turn two different ways,” Nimmo said.

The Mets showed resilience in rebounding from a 4-0 deficit after three innings to beat a team that won 10 of the 13 meetings last season.

In his Mets debut, Julio Teheran lasted only 2 ²/₃ innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

The right-hander, signed as a free agent last week, was returning to face the team for which he spent the first nine years of his career.

Teheran never escaped a third inning in which he threw 41 pitches and allowed four earned runs on four hits and two walks.

The Braves sent nine batters to the plate in the inning and scored four runs.

Jarred Kelenic and Ronald Acuña Jr. walked in succession to begin the inning.

Ozzie Albies delivered a two-run double and with two outs Ozuna crushed a 90 mph sinker into the left-field seats to bury the Mets in a 4-0 hole.

Reed Garrett recorded the inning’s final out after Harris and Arcia each singled against Teheran.

Starling Marte’s RBI single in the fourth sliced the Mets’ deficit to 4-1.

Charlie Morton walked Pete Alonso to start the inning and Brett Baty’s single off Olson’s glove put runners on first and second with one out.

Nimmo tied it, 4-4, with a 435-foot shot over the right-field bleachers for a three-run homer in the fifth.

Morton walked Jeff McNeil and Joey Wendle in succession to begin the inning before Nimmo connected on a changeup for his first homer of the season.

DJ Stewart celebrates after his home run in the eighth inning gave the Mets the lead. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con
Billye Aaron, center, wife of the late Hank Aaron, stands with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, second from front left, Atlanta Braves chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk, front left, Dusty Baker, fourth from right, and players from the 1974 Braves team during a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of Hank breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record team. AP

D’Arnaud blasted an RBI double against Cole Sulser in the sixth that gave the Braves a 5-4 lead.

Arcia reached on an infield single before d’Arnaud jumped on a high fastball and hit over Marte’s outstretched glove.

Nimmo’s second homer of the night, a shot that cleared the center-field fence against lefty A.J. Minter in the seventh, tied it 5-5.

The blast gave Nimmo multi-homer games for the sixth time in his career.

Nimmo began the night with a .454 OPS, but ended it at .819.

“It feels really good for some of them to fall where people can’t catch them,” Nimmo said. “I feel like I have been swinging the bat well and hit some balls hard but they haven’t quite fallen.”


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