Good riddance: Mets close door on Turner Field with rubber-match rout

ATLANTA -- The New York Mets escaped a one-time house of horrors behind the continuation of Yoenis Cespedes' late-season charge for the second straight year.

Cespedes delivered a third-inning grand slam, and the Mets went on to a 10-3 rubber-match rout of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

The Mets completed their 20th and final season visiting Turner Field with an all-time record of 67-106. The Braves are relocating to a new home in Cobb County next season, with Georgia State University football set to take over the downtown baseball digs.

“I’ve talked to some people who have toured it, and they said it’s really going to be nice,” Mets manager Terry Collins said about the Braves' new ballpark. “I won’t mind missing downtown traffic, either. Coming through downtown sometimes can be difficult in the middle of the day.”

Since dropping the opening two games of a four-game series in San Francisco in mid-August to fall two games under .500, the Mets have won 16 of 21 games.

Cespedes’ acquisition at the non-waiver trade deadline in 2015 allowed the Mets to become the first team in MLB history to rank last in runs scored on July 31 and win a pennant. On Sunday, he reached the 30-homer plateau for the second straight season.

Cespedes has produced at least one RBI in five straight games. The homer against Williams Perez on Sunday was Cespedes’ second grand slam of the season and fourth of his career. He also had a grand slam against San Francisco’s Mike Broadway on April 29.

Collins tried to pull Cespedes in the eighth inning with the rout on, but the slugger wanted to remain in the game.

"He wants to win," Collins said. "I'll tell you that. This guy wants to win. It's like today, I went to him to try to get him out, and he said, 'No, I want to stay in.' That tells you he's laying it on the line. I tip my hat to him. ... If he's going to get hot, he's getting hot at the right time. This is a big stretch for us."

Cespedes declined to speak to reporters after the game.

"His bat will do his talking," a team spokesman said.

Trailing 6-0 in the fourth, the Braves received an RBI single from Freddie Freeman and proceeded to load the bases with none out against rookie Seth Lugo. However, ex-Met Anthony Recker popped out in the infield, and Dansby Swanson grounded into an inning-ending double play as Lugo limited the damage to one run.

The Mets (76-67) piled on with four more runs the following half-inning -- capped by Lugo’s first career RBI, on a sacrifice fly -- to open a 10-1 lead.

Lugo (4-2) retired 10 straight batters before surrendering a two-out homer to Brandon Snyder in the seventh. Lugo allowed two runs on six hits and one walk in seven innings. His ERA now stands at 2.40.

"Through the minors it wasn't always like that," Lugo said about escaping jams. "You learn from experience."

The Mets are 8-2 in games started by Robert Gsellman, Rafael Montero and Lugo. That has kept them relevant in the wild-card race despite the shorter-term absences of Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, in addition to season-ending issues involving fellow pitchers Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jonathon Niese.

DeGrom (forearm) and Matz (shoulder) both resumed throwing off a mound on Saturday for the first time since their injuries flared up. Neither did so at full throttle, however, so neither is expected back in the rotation imminently.

As a result, Montero starts Monday’s series opener against the Washington Nationals in D.C. He has walked 10 in 9⅓ innings in two starts in place of deGrom, but the Mets have won both of those games.

The Mets moved back ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League’s second wild-card spot. Now it's a final showdown with the Nationals in D.C.