Curtis Granderson already had batted six times Sunday afternoon, when all he had done was agitate the boobirds. So when the struggling Mets outfielder dug in for a seventh time, little was expected by those who had lingered into the 14th inning.
That group included Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who ordered an intentional walk to Eric Young Jr. to put runners on first and second and bring Granderson to the plate.
But after a wild pitch, Granderson completed a bizarre afternoon at Citi Field by lifting a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 4-3 walk-off win.
The Mets mobbed Granderson near first base, where he played hero despite going 0-for-6 on a day in which he was moved out of the cleanup spot and saw his average dip to .127.
"To take any positive away from today -- from any day -- is always a good thing,'' he said after a tumultuous weekend.
The Mets returned home Friday for a three-game set with the Braves after a 6-3 road trip. But instead of building on that momentum, the Mets slouched against the Braves, who entered Sunday seeking a three-game sweep.
But the Mets salvaged the finale, even if it wasn't pretty.
"We need this win,'' manager Terry Collins said. "We came off a great road trip and we played a very good team. To get this win, we're 9-9, and we'll take it right now. That's where we are and we'll build on that.''
The Mets needed the help of three Braves errors -- a muffed fly ball, a booted ground ball and a ball lost on the transfer -- to scrounge up four runs. They also needed a well-timed wild pitch in the 14th and eight scoreless frames from the bullpen after righthander Zack Wheeler allowed three runs in six innings. But that's exactly what they got.
Working a second straight day for the first time in his big- league career, Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched three no-hit innings after taking over in the 11th.
"It was a very big win for the team,'' Matsuzaka said through a translator. "Personally, having thrown three innings and contributed that way, is also very satisfying.''
Before the game, Collins reshuffled the deck. He installed Kyle Farnsworth as the closer in place of the struggling Jose Valverde and moved Granderson out of the cleanup spot in favor of Daniel Murphy. Collins hoped the move would take some pressure off Granderson, who struggled nonetheless.
Boos rained down when he left the bases loaded in the second with a weak tapper and threw the ball into the Braves' dugout from rightfield in the fifth, allowing a run to score. Fans seized on their chance to voice their displeasure at the return for the Mets' $60 million investment.
"You can't help but hear them,'' he said. "I understand I haven't given them much to cheer about.''
But he was ready in the 14th. With one out and a runner at second base, Gonzalez ordered reliever Gus Schlosser to walk Young to get to Granderson, whose hitless streak had reached 16 at-bats. But the move backfired when Schlosser uncorked a wild pitch, putting the winning run at third.
Granderson's sacrifice fly to leftfield then drove in Kirk Nieuwenhuis and triggered a celebration.
"Relief I'm not sure is the word,'' Granderson said. "But it's a sign that things can change in the matter of a second, in the matter of a swing.''
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