Eric Young Jr. steals show as Mets take series in Atlanta
ATLANTA - Eric Young Jr. sounded as if he were reciting a mission statement.
"Just try to get on base and cause havoc," he said Thursday night after propelling the Mets to a 6-4 victory over the Braves. "It worked out."
Speed never slumps, but rarely is it ever as lethal as it was Thursday night, when the Mets' leadoff man sparked an offense that broke out just in time to take two of three games against the division rival Braves.
Young tied a career high with three stolen bases, and each time he came around to score. He went 3-for-5 with a bunt single and a triple and scored four runs on an evening filled with havoc.
"The guy creates runs," said Mets manager Terry Collins, who watched his sputtering lineup spring to life against the Braves.
Daniel Murphy went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, the surging Juan Lagares knocked in the go-ahead run and three relievers pieced together four scoreless innings. Closer Jose Valverde picked up his second save with a perfect ninth, extending the bullpen's scoreless streak to 14 innings in its last five games.
But ultimately it was Young's speed that helped to overcome a gritty outing by Jenrry Mejia, a pair of homers by the Braves' Justin Upton and a defensive gaffe by rightfielder Curtis Granderson, who is hitting .125 in his first nine games with the Mets.
Clearly, it wasn't perfect. Nevertheless, the Mets (4-5) emerged from Atlanta with a series victory in the first leg of a nine-game trip that continues Friday night in Anaheim against the Angels.
"Winning series, that's what we're trying to focus on here," said Murphy, who was hitting .250 before breaking out Thursday night. "That's two in a row."
After the Mets handed Mejia a 3-1 lead, the Braves responded with a three-run third inning, triggered in part by Granderson's mistake. He misplayed B.J. Upton's long drive, turning it into a leadoff triple, and Upton eventually scored.
Later in the frame, Justin Upton delivered his second homer of the night, this one a two-run shot that gave the Braves a 4-3 lead.
The Mets tied it in the fifth when B.J. Upton returned the favor, misplaying a long fly ball that led to Young's leadoff triple. He scored on Murphy's RBI single through a drawn-in infield.
Mejia allowed four runs in five innings but achieved a minor victory, leaving the game with the score tied at 4.
Lagares snapped the tie in the seventh. With runners at the corners and two down against sidewinding reliever Gus Schlosser, Lagares poked a spinning slider into rightfield, driving in Murphy from third.
"It's a mistake," said Lagares, who is hitting .303. "And I took advantage."
The Mets added an insurance run in the eighth, and Young's speed again played a role. He swiped second base to get himself into scoring position ahead of Murphy, who followed with a double to the gap in right-center.
Young, who went 5-for-5 on the basepaths in the series, followed one of his steals by advancing to third when he forced a wild throw by catcher Ryan Doumit.
Young scored one of his runs by hustling home from second base on a hard-hit single by David Wright, and he set career highs in hits and run scored.
"Tonight," Collins said, "he showed you he can win games for you."