NEW YORK (AP) — Pinch-hitter Brandon Drury delivered a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning and right fielder Michael Conforto threw out a runner at the plate in the ninth to preserve the New York Mets’ 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
The first-place Mets have maintained their five-game lead on the third-place Braves in the NL East by splitting the first four games of the five-game series.
Drury, batting for reliever Trevor May, hit Max Fried’s 1-0 pitch well into the left field seats for his fourth pinch-hit homer of the season, tying him for the major league lead with the Braves’ Pablo Sandoval.
May (4-2) struck out two in a perfect seventh. Aaron Loup allowed two hits in the eighth before Jeurys Familia escaped the jam by striking out Austin Riley and retiring Dansby Swanson on a grounder.
Atlanta almost tied it in the ninth, when Edwin Díaz allowed a leadoff double to Abraham Almonte and a one-out single to right by pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza. Third base coach Ron Washington waved home Almonte, who was tagged out by catcher James McCann after taking a perfect throw from Conforto on the fly.
Díaz then got Sandoval to fly out for his 23rd save.
Mets right-hander Tylor Megill, pitching on his 26th birthday, carried a shutout into the sixth before Riley’s one-out homer — the third in the last two games for the Braves’ third baseman — ended his night. Megill gave up five hits and one walk while striking out six in lowering his ERA to 2.04, the second-lowest mark for a Mets rookie through seven starts behind only Nolan Ryan (1.99).
Megill also scored the Mets’ first run in the third, when he kept the inning alive with a two-out single — the second straight game in which he’s singled. Brandon Nimmo walked and Pete Alonso singled before Jeff McNeil drove home Megill with a single. The hit extended McNeil’s hitting streak to a career-high 15 games.
McNeil finished 2 for 4 and is batting .396 with 13 RBIs during the streak.
Fried (7-7) took the hard-luck loss after giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with nine strikeouts in seven innings.
Megill became the 11th Mets pitcher to start on his birthday — Jacob deGrom and Ron Darling have each done so twice — and the second to collect a hit and score a run. Darling went 2 for 3 with two runs scored on his 26th birthday on Aug. 19, 1986.
Megill is the first pitcher with a hit and a run scored on his birthday since Gio Gonzalez did so for the Milwaukee Brewers on his 33rd birthday in 2018.
Megill is the second big leaguer in two days to start on his birthday — Brad Keller turned 26 on Tuesday, when he tossed seven innings for the Kansas City Royals — and the 10th to do so this season. Jose Urquidy, Freddy Peralta, Drew Smyly and Kwang Hyun Kim all won on their birthdays this year.
Riley’s homer in the sixth was his seventh in 18 games at Citi Field — more than notable Mets rivals such as J.T. Realmuto (six in 51 games), Jayson Werth (five in 70 games) and Trea Turner (five in 39 games).
Braves: OF Joc Pederson (upset stomach) returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game. … C Travis d’Arnaud (left thumb) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Gwinnett. … RHP Huascar Ynoa (broken right hand) is expected to start a rehab assignment next Tuesday.