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Zack Wheeler beats Braves as Travis d'Arnaud picks up first big-league hit

Zack Wheeler delivers a pitch during a game

Zack Wheeler delivers a pitch during a game against the Atlanta Braves. (Aug. 20, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Travis d'Arnaud got his first big-league hit in his first game at Citi Field and Zack Wheeler pitched 62/3 scintillating innings with his fellow rookie behind the plate last night as the Mets beat the Braves, 5-3.

D'Arnaud doubled to the left-centerfield wall with two outs in the eighth inning off former Met and Yankee Luis Ayala. It came in d'Arnaud's 16th plate appearance; he had been 0-for-10 with five walks.

"It was definitely weighing on me a little bit," said d'Arnaud, who will give the ball to his father, who was in attendance. "Indescribable feeling. So happy for him."

D'Arnaud's double meant nothing in the final outcome. But it sparked sustained applause from the crowd of 25,863 as the catcher stood at second base.

Wheeler had earlier heard the cheers when he walked off with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh and the Mets leading 4-0.

True, Wheeler's final line shows he allowed three runs. All of them scored when Carlos Torres gave up a three-run double to Andrelton Simmons.

Wheeler really didn't want to come out of the game. He let Terry Collins know it when the manager came to get him.

"He was furious that he came out when he did," Collins said. "I love that stuff. I love the player who, when the game is over, is genuinely upset that I took him out of the game or pinch hit for him. I love those guys. Zack Wheeler -- I wasn't sure he was going to give me the ball. It was going to be a wrestling match. I love that stuff."

Asked if Wheeler said anything to him, Collins said: "Not on the mound, but he might have said a couple things coming off."

Wheeler (6-2, 3.49 ERA) allowed six hits, walked three and struck out five in a 114-pitch effort. He threw 115 in his previous outing.

"I was pretty mad about that last inning," Wheeler said. "I just sort of let it get away from me."

The Mets, powered by a two-run home run from Marlon Byrd and solo shot by Ike Davis, returned from their 11-game, four-city road trip to upend the first-place Braves.

Wheeler, who made his major-league debut in Atlanta, has faced the Braves three times in 12 starts and is 3-0, 2.89 against them. Wheeler grew up 30 miles outside Atlanta in Dallas, Ga.

Since July, Wheeler is 5-1 with a 3.04 ERA and the Mets are 8-1 in his starts.

Byrd set a career high with his 21st home run when he hit a moon shot to left off Brandon Beachy (2-1) to give the Mets a 4-0 lead in the sixth.

Eric Young Jr. also set a career high with his 28th steal as the Mets pilfered a run just before Byrd's home run with a successful double steal of second and third and throwing error by catcher Brian McCann.

The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first. Young reached on a throwing error by shortstop Simmons and scored when Davis' two-out single went under the glove of first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Wheeler was cruising along with a 4-0 lead with two outs in the seventh when the Braves loaded the bases on a double and two walks. Collins called on Torres, who is set to join the team's starting rotation Friday.

Simmons lined a double into the leftfield corner to clear the bases and moved to third on a throwing error by shortstop Omar Quintanilla, whose relay throw sailed to Torres backing up the plate on the fly.

Torres unwisely threw to third to get Simmons; his throw was off-line, too, but Daniel Murphy grabbed it 10 feet from third base.

Scott Rice came on to get Freeman to fly to left to end the inning with the Mets still ahead. Gonzalez Germen pitched a scoreless eighth and Davis hit his eighth home run in the bottom of the inning to give the Mets a two-run cushion. LaTroy Hawkins threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.

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