NEW YORK -- For nearly a year, the Mets had been streaking -- straight out of contention. Now, following a 4-8 start, they've evened their record for the first time since the opening week of the season.
Jason Bay hit a tying double in the sixth inning, Jeff Francoeur doubled in the go-ahead run with a drive off the 415-foot sign in the seventh and the Mets finally got to Jair Jurrjens in a 3-1 victory over the reeling Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
".500 is nothing to throw a party about, by any means," Francoeur said. "It's a stepping stone."
New York (9-9) took advantage of brain-locked baserunning by Yunel Escobar to improve to 5-1 on a 10-game homestand. Starting with last weekend's 20-inning victory at St. Louis, the Mets have won six of eight. They're on just their third three-game winning streak since May.
"For the most part this season, we've played good baseball," New York manager Jerry Manuel said. "We didn't have much to show for it, but we were in a lot of games."
It was a costly loss for the Braves. Playing on his 38th birthday, Chipper Jones injured his right hip on his first swing. He took a pair of called third strikes and was removed after 2 1/2 innings. Jones feared he will be sidelined for a few games.
"I've never had that happen before, in football or anything," he said. "It still hurts after I've had ice and everything."
Atlanta has lost four straight, its steepest skid since dropping its final six last year. The Braves ran themselves out of an inning in the fifth.
With runners on second and third and one out, Troy Glaus lined to Francoeur in the gap in right-center. Escobar failed to tag up at third and Martin Prado, who had replaced Jones, tagged up at second.
"Everybody was really dumbfounded," David Ross said.
Not thinking he would have a play at the plate, Francoeur threw to third. Prado got trapped in a rundown and was tagged out quickly, failing to give Escobar time to score.
Given where the ball was hit, Braves manager Bobby Cox couldn't understand what Escobar was -- or wasn't -- thinking.
"I've seen that on line drives, but never in the gap like that," he said.
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes also appeared to lose track of the outs, throwing home in an attempt for Escobar -- which would have been the fourth out.
"We've been our own worst enemy," Jones said.
Escobar wouldn't discuss the game, throwing his jersey and pants into his locker.
"I guess he didn't know how many outs there were," Jurrjens said. "It was just a mental mistake."
With the score 1-all in the seventh, Jurrjens (0-2) walked hot-hitting rookie Ike Davis leading off and Francoeur sent the next pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark in right-center. He took third on the futile throw home and scored on Henry Blanco's sacrifice fly.
Niese walked five in laboring through 5 1/3 innings in 116 pitches but allowing just five hits. Atlanta loaded the bases in the first on David Wright's error at third and two walks. With one out, Niese struck out Matt Diaz and threw a called third strike past Melky Cabrera.
Jurrjens entered 6-1 against the Mets, including 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA in five starts last year. Given a 1-0 lead on Ross' RBI single in the sixth, he gave it right back in the bottom half on a four-pitch walk to Reyes followed by Bay's run-scoring, one-hop double to the center-field wall. Jurrjens allowed three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
"When you win a couple series, you start feeling good about yourself," Wright said. "You go out there expecting to win."
Jones is a career .419 hitter (18 for 43) on his birthday with three doubles, four homers and 10 RBIs, according to STATS LLC. The Braves entered with a 9-1 record when he played on his birthday, losing 11-6 at Houston in 2001 when he homered twice. ... Prado, who didn't start because of a sore hamstring, replaced Jones at third. ... Wright struck out for the 11th straight game, extending his career high. ... Mets RHP John Maine, whose start Friday was cut short by pain in his left (non pitching) elbow, still isn't sure whether he can take his next turn in the rotation. Hisanori Takahashi would start if Maine can't. ... Fans brought dogs on the field before the game on "Bark in the Park" day. ... Blanco stole his first base in nine years.
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