McNeil lifts Mets over Braves 1-0 for doubleheader split

NEW YORK (AP) — Jeff McNeil laced his second go-ahead hit in two days Monday night, when his RBI double in the fifth inning sent the New York Mets to a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves and a doubleheader split.

Kyle Muller threw five sharp innings to earn his second big league victory in the opener, a 2-0 win for the Braves.

Under pandemic rules, each game was shortened to seven innings.

The Mets have split nine of their 11 doubleheaders this season and swept the other two. The loss in the nightcap prevented the third-place Braves (49-51), who have yet to be above .500 this year, from reaching the break-even mark for the seventh time. They are five games behind the NL East-leading Mets.

New York squandered a first-and-third, none-out opportunity in the fourth before scoring its lone run of the day in the fifth. Brandon Nimmo led off with an infield single and scored one out later on the double by McNeil, who was making his first start since Wednesday.

McNeil missed games Friday and Saturday against Toronto with left leg fatigue before delivering a pinch-hit, two-run double that broke a tie in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 5-4 win.

Trevor May (3-2), the fourth of six Mets pitchers Monday night, threw a perfect fifth.

The Braves mounted their biggest threat in the sixth against Seth Lugo, who gave up a single to Joc Pederson and walked Ozzie Albies before Freddie Freeman flied out to the wall in left field. Austin Riley then hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Edwin Diaz struck out the side in a perfect seventh for his 22nd save.

Mets opener Aaron Loup threw a perfect first inning.

Braves starter Bryse Wilson allowed four hits and walked one with two strikeouts in three-plus innings.

In the first game, the 23-year-old Muller (2-3) gave up four hits and walked two while striking out three. He allowed the Mets to advance just two runners as far as second base as he lowered his ERA to 2.55 in six games (five starts).

Tyler Matzek threw a perfect sixth and Will Smith earned his 20th save.

Muller also helped build the Braves’ first run by singling off Marcus Stroman (7-9) in the third for his first major league hit. Pederson followed with an RBI double.

An unusual double by Dansby Swanson leading off the fourth began the Braves’ second run-scoring rally. Swanson’s shot high off the center-field wall was initially ruled a homer by second base umpire Jose Navas, but Kevin Pillar threw the ball into the infield and Swanson was tagged by shortstop Jonathan Villar as crew chief Doug Eddings overruled Navas and awarded Swanson second base.

Stephen Vogt followed with a single and Swanson scored when Orlando Arcia beat out a potential double-play grounder.

Stroman allowed two runs on eight hits and one walk with four strikeouts over five innings.

PITCHERS WHO RAKE

Muller and Stroman helped their own cause in the third. With Guillermo Heredia on second following a leadoff double, Muller missed while trying to bunt a Stroman splitter on the first pitch and showed bunt before pulling back and singling through the drawn-in infield for his milestone hit.

“That was a horrid bunt attempt on the first pitch,” Muller said with a grin. “I trust myself swinging more than bunting and it found a hole. It was perfect. It’s not how pictured my first hit, but I’m not complaining at all.”

Muller said he was already presented the ball in an acrylic case.

Stroman led off the bottom half with a well-placed bunt single down the third base line.

“I saw they were playing back,” Stroman said. “I’m not a very good hitter. I just saw an opportunity to hopefully get on base and get something started.”

It was the third straight day in which two starting pitchers had a hit in the same game. Lance Lynn and Brandon Woodruff did so for the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and Merrill Kelly and Alec Mills each doubled for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: LHP Drew Smyly (left knee) played catch and could still start for the Braves on Thursday. Smyly left Saturday’s start after four innings due to soreness. … RHP Ian Anderson (right shoulder) threw from 120 feet and is scheduled to throw from 150 feet Tuesday.

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (right forearm) threw again, one day after he threw his first side session since going on the injured list July 18. Manager Luis Rojas said deGrom would likely throw another side session soon. … RHP Carlos Carrasco (right hamstring), who threw three scoreless innings for Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday, could make his Mets debut this weekend.

UP NEXT

Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (9-3, 3.65 ERA) will look to win his fifth straight decision in the third game of the five-game series Tuesday night.

Mets: Had not yet announced a starter for Tuesday.

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