The Mets had numerous chances to go south Saturday. That they didn't and got back to .500 with a 3-1 win over the Braves at Citi Field is the continuation of a new trend: The breaks haven't beaten them during their 5-1 homestand.
Mets starter Jonathon Niese escaped a 32-pitch first inning without damage despite having the bases loaded with one out. The Mets didn't get to Braves starter Jair Jurrjens (0-2) until the sixth but managed to get timely hits from Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur to eke out a lead.
And the Braves, who dropped into the NL East cellar that the Mets (9-9) had occupied since the first week of the season, were the ones bumbling around.
Yunel Escobar should have scored easily on a fly to right-center in a scoreless game in the fifth, but he didn't tag up. Unfortunately for the Braves, Martin Prado did from second, and it became a double play.
Even Chipper Jones, was caught looking twice by Niese before exiting with a hip injury.
"We're just playing well and not making mistakes," said Francoeur, whose drive that hit the 415-foot sign in centerfield knocked in Ike Davis with the go-ahead run in the seventh. "We're getting guys over, getting guys in. It's awesome, man."
Even the Mets' iffy plays are working out. After doubling home Davis and taking third on the throw home, Francoeur tagged up on a shallow fly by Blanco. He scored easily when Matt Diaz's throw was offline.
Niese went 51/3 innings, allowing a run-scoring single by David Ross in the sixth, but lasting that long after the grueling first was a positive. Omar Infante reached on an error by David Wright and Niese walked Escobar and Glaus. He struck out Diaz swinging and Melky Cabrera looking at a fastball.
Niese totaled 116 pitches, finishing with five walks and six strikeouts, and used his curveball well. "I'm starting to incorporate it a little bit more, just wanted to throw it for strikes more," Niese said.
The Mets' bullpen did the job again, with Manny Acosta (1-0), Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano picking up eight outs to get to Francisco Rodriguez, who recorded a save for the third straight day with a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Braves did their part, too. With runners on second and third in the fifth, Glaus hit a hard drive to Francoeur's right. He had no shot to throw Escobar out at the plate, so he threw to third to try and keep Prado at second. Both Braves were around third base, though, and Jose Reyes tagged out Prado. "I ran off just dumbfounded about it," Francoeur said. "To get a break like that, it kind of set the tone."
So did Bay lacing a run-scoring hit for the second straight day. Reyes walked with two outs in the sixth, stole second and reached third on a throwing error by Ross before Bay hit a 3-and-1 fastball over Cabrera's head in center for a tying double.
"I feel more comfortable at the plate," said Bay, who had three hits and is hitting .262. "We're getting some timelier hitting as a team; we're getting some breaks. I'd say the biggest thing is we're not squandering the opportunities we do get."