09/23/09 11:51 PM ET
Braves sweep, close in on Wild Card
Atlanta blows past Mets, moves to four game of Rockies
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
With each of their final 10 games coming against the Marlins and Nationals, the Braves still have reason to near the season's final week with a sense of optimism. But they can only wonder if they're going to run out of time before being able to fully benefit from the kind of contributions that Adam LaRoche and Tim Hudson provided during Wednesday night's 5-2 win over the Mets at Citi Field.
"We just have to keep doing what we're doing," said LaRoche, who hit .484 in the nine games he played against the Mets after joining the Braves at the Trade Deadline. "Obviously, something is clicking right now and we're playing some great baseball. Hopefully, it's not too late."
While notching a pair of three-game sweeps against the Mets over the span of nine days, the Braves have kept their postseason hopes alive. Still, even with wins in 11 of their past 13 games and 12 of their past 15, Atlanta still finds itself with the challenge of erasing the four-game deficit that separates them from the Rockies and the top spot in the National League Wild Card standings.
"We just keep rolling and see what happens," said Cox after the Braves recorded an eighth consecutive victory over the Mets for the first time since they spanned 11 straight victories against them during the 1982 and '83 seasons.
LaRoche continued his assault on the Mets pitching staff with a three-hit performance and also provided a couple of nice defensive plays at his first-base position to back Hudson, who limited the Mets to two runs and nine hits in six innings.
While winning for the second time in the five starts that he's made since returning from elbow reconstruction surgery, Hudson recorded 13 of his 18 outs via groundouts. His patented sinker induced double-play groundouts during each of his final three innings.
"For me, I think that was his best game [since returning]," Cox said. "He had so many ground balls tonight. A ton of them got through and he got the ground balls for the double plays to come right back."
The Braves, who won 11 of the 13 games they played against the Mets after the All-Star break, gave Hudson an early lead with a three-run lead that was sparked by one of Garret Anderson's two singles and highlighted by LaRoche's RBI double.
Anderson, who is eight hits shy of notching 2,500 in his career, hurt Mets starter Mike Pelfrey again with a long drive that hit off the padding on the top of the right-field wall and resulted in a long single. Two batters later, LaRoche delivered an RBI single to provide Hudson more comfort while navigating through the jams he encountered during the third and fourth innings.
"It's pretty impressive seeing [Hudson]," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "He wasn't lacking velocity. He was throwing the ball where he wanted to. We had a chance to throw some runs up there and he made some pitches and got out of a few jams."
Hudson stirred trouble when he began the bottom of the third with a four-pitch walk to Pelfrey and then surrendered a consecutive singles to Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo. The 34-year-old right-hander limited the damage to one run in that inning and the fourth, when he encountered more trouble.
"During the fourth inning, everything got through," Cox said. "He had five ground balls and a punchout that inning and only gave up the one run. I thought he had his best sinker going tonight."
The Mets began the fourth inning with three consecutive singles and managed to score their one run on a Pagan grounder that was botched by Kelly Johnson, who was playing second base because he had hit Martin Prado below the left knee with a batting practice line drive.
Johnson's error proved inconsequential when Hudson got Castillo to ground into the first of the three double play groundouts that aided his performance.
"It wasn't a dominating, perfect kind of night," Hudson said. "But these are the kinds of nights as a pitcher that you really like, because you go out there and battle and feel like you've given the team a good chance to win."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.