Ronald Acuna Jr. delivered a go-ahead, two-run single in the seventh inning Tuesday night as the visiting Atlanta Braves stormed back to beat the New York Mets 7-3 in the opener of a three-game series.
With their sixth straight win, the National League East champion Braves (89-68) ensured they would remain at least a half-game ahead of the NL West-leading Dodgers in the race for home-field advantage in the NL Division Series. Los Angeles was 88-69 entering a Tuesday night game at Arizona.
Atlanta also entered Tuesday three games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs in the race for the top overall seed in the Senior Circuit.
The Mets (73-84) would be assured a fourth-place finish in the NL East with one more loss or one more win by the third-place Philadelphia Phillies.
The Braves were blanked on three hits through six innings by Mets starter Noah Syndergaard but wasted no time beginning a comeback against reliever Robert Gsellman (6-3), who gave up four runs (three earned) while recording just one out.
New York led 3-0 when Atlanta’s Johan Camargo led off the seventh with a double and scored on Kurt Suzuki’s single. Gsellman then struck out Ozzie Albies and walked Charlie Culberson before the Braves loaded the bases when center fielder Austin Jackson dropped a line drive by pinch hitter Rio Ruiz.
Drew Smith relieved Gsellman, then uncorked a run-scoring wild pitch on his first pitch before Acuna laced his go-ahead single on the next offering.
The Braves piled on in the eighth, when Camargo reached on a one-out error by third baseman Todd Frazier and scored on Suzuki’s double. Albies followed with a two-run homer.
Nick Markakis and Suzuki had each two hits for the Braves.
The seventh-inning rally made a winner out of Dan Winkler (4-0), who gave up a run on two hits in the sixth. Braves starting pitcher Touki Toussaint allowed two runs on three hits and five walks while striking out six over five innings.
The Mets went ahead 2-0 in the third, when Jeff McNeil (single), Michael Conforto (RBI double) and Jay Bruce (run-scoring single) had consecutive one-out hits. New York extended its lead to 3-0 on Tomas Nido’s sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Conforto had two hits.
Syndergaard issued two walks and struck out five.
–Field Level Media