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Bullpen preserves Bartolo Colon's second win as Mets avoid sweep in Atlanta

Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets runs

Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets runs to first base after hitting an RBI single into rightfield against the Atlanta Braves during the Braves' opening series at Turner Field on April 12, 2015 in Atlanta. Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox

ATLANTA - When the news broke of Jenrry Mejia's 80-game PED suspension, Mets manager Terry Collins pulled aside two of the closer's best friends on the team.

He wanted to personally break the news to Bartolo Colon and Jeurys Familia.

"You could tell they were disappointed and shocked," Collins said Sunday. "The first thing out of Jeurys' mouth was, 'Oh, no.' "

One day later, Colon and Familia helped breathe some life into the Mets, who held off the Braves, 4-3, to avoid a series sweep.

Colon improved to 2-0 by holding the Braves to three runs in seven innings. The comically inept hitter also delivered a key RBI single, his first run batted in since 2005.

Familia slammed the door in the ninth, recording the first of what could be many saves in place of his friend Mejia. He had a lead to protect because of Daniel Murphy, who came off the bench to deliver a sacrifice fly in the eighth that drove in the go-ahead run.

Meanwhile, in a preview of how the Mets will manage the bullpen in Mejia's absence, Collins leaned on lefty specialist Jerry Blevins to help secure the lead.

"I've got to be happy with the way we've pitched," Collins said.

Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run home run -- his first as a Met -- for a 2-0 lead in the first, but a botched double play in the second inning opened the door for Andrelton Simmons' tying two-run triple.

Still, Colon worked past the miscue, then took matters into his own hands and broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth. He reached over the plate to poke a broken-bat looper over the head of second baseman Jace Peterson.

Colon's batting helmet fell off his head before he jogged to first, prompting a round of laughter in the Mets' dugout. It was a moment of levity for a team that needed one after Mejia's suspension soured the mood in the clubhouse.

"The only concern is that hopefully, he will be back in top shape," said Colon, who through a translator remembered what he called the embarrassment of his own PED suspension.

In 2012, while pitching for the A's, Colon served a 50-game suspension when he tested positive for raised testosterone levels. In the aftermath of the test, Colon said he "didn't want to be seen."

As someone who "went through all that before," Colon said he feels for Mejia "because he won't be here."

With Mejia out until the second half, the Mets must reshuffle their bullpen. For now, Blevins and Familia will be keys, as they were Sunday.

Jonny Gomes hit a solo homer off Colon to tie the score at 3 in the seventh. But when the Mets reclaimed the lead in the eighth behind Murphy's go-ahead sacrifice fly, it was Blevins and Familia who recorded the last six outs.

Lefty specialist Blevins struck out a pair of dangerous lefthanded-hitting threats in Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman to end the eighth.

Blevins stayed in the game in the ninth to retire another tough lefthanded hitter in A.J. Pierzynski. Only then did Collins turn the ball over to Familia, who quickly got the final two outs.

Without Mejia, Familia will function as the closer. But matchups will dictate his usage, even if that means turning to Blevins to get the final out.

Familia said he has no issue with the arrangement, one that will be critical for the Mets in the absence of Mejia, his pal.

"I feel sorry for him," said Familia, who was too upset to comment Saturday. "I feel really bad. But the rules [are] the rules, and now he's got to pay for it. But everybody in here is going to miss him."

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