Stunning catch for an outfielder playing for the first time after missing six games with a strained right hamstring.
Jason Heyward saves Atlanta Braves with diving catch against NY Mets
NEW YORK // Credit Jason Heyward with a save. His teammates sure are.
The 6-foot-5 outfielder made a diving, game-ending catch with runners on first and second after pinch-hitter Reed Johnson hit a go-ahead single with two outs in a two-run top half, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets in the MLB National League on Monday night.
"That was unbelievable," Johnson said.
Playing for the first time after missing six games with a strained right hamstring, Heyward was positioned toward right-centre field when pinch-hitter Justin Turner sent Craig Kimbrel's pitch to the opposite gap. Heyward raced across Citi Field's spacious outfield and made a flat out dive for the drive in the rain. He held up his glove to show he had the ball as he slid across the turf on his belly for the final out.
"I want to make every play I can," the Gold Glove outfielder said. "If I try to play it on the hop it probably gets by me. The safe way there was probably not the best."
The Braves appreciated the effort. Johnson, the left fielder, threw his hands in the air and jumped up. Starter Julio Teheran said he jumped, too, while watching in the clubhouse. Kimbrel threw his head back, then held his hands out wide - lip readers could see him saying, "Oh, my God!"
Astonishing? Not to Brian McCann.
"When he gets full tilt, he can fly," said the catcher, who started the Braves' ninth-inning rally with a single off Bobby Parnell.
Heyward was playing centre field because BJ Upton is on the disabled list.
"If he doesn't leave his feet, he ain't gonna catch that ball," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But the son of a gun's 6-foot-6, 6-7, and he's not afraid to do that. We've seen him do that in right field, leave his feet. Wow, what a catch!"
The Braves were in position to win because they took advantage of catcher John Buck's passed ball to score twice in the ninth.
Atlanta did not get a hit off Dillon Gee until Freddie Freeman led off the seventh with a single. But the NL East leaders ended their two-game skid against Parnell (5-5).
With shortstop Omar Quintanilla playing behind second base in a shift, McCann singled through the opening at short to open the ninth. Evan Gattis followed with a bloop single to right-centre. David Wright then fielded Dan Uggla's grounder and stepped on third before leaping over a sliding pinch-runner Jose Constanza. Buck's passed ball on a high fastball put runners in scoring position before Chris Johnson's grounder tied it.
"We just got crossed up," Buck said of he and Parnell on the passed ball.
Batting for reliever Jordan Walden, Reed Johnson lined a single to centre for the lead – a day after he was robbed of an eighth-inning homer by the White Sox's Casper Wells in a 3-1 loss.
Kimbrel hit Buck with a pitch with one out in the rainy ninth, drawing the Mets fans ire as he tried to get comfortable in the steady downpour by walking off the mound after nearly every pitch. Pinch-runner Andrew Brown advanced to second on a wild pitch and Quintanilla drew a 10-pitch walk.
Turner, in his first game off the disabled list, then hit what he thought would at least tie it.
"I went up there and tried to take a good at-bat, and unfortunately ended up on the wrong end of a highlight reel," Turner said.
Kimbrel earned his 28th save. Walden (4-1) pitched the eighth for the Braves' first win in three games.
Teheran kept pace with Gee, allowing just Ike Davis' RBI single in the fourth inning.
"I knew the other pitcher was pitching great, too. I just tried to keep the game close," Teheran said.
Teheran put runners on base in each of the first four innings, but picked off leadoff man Eric Young Jr. after walking him in the first. Teheran couldn't overcome Marlon Byrd's leadoff triple in the fourth, though.
Byrd hit a sinking line drive to right field that went under the glove of a charging Justin Upton and rolled to the wall. Byrd raced around second and the fans' cheers began to swell but turned to a collective "aww" when he was held at third rather than try for an inside-the-park homer.
Davis followed with a sharp grounder under diving first baseman Freeman for the 1-0 lead. It was Davis' first RBI since he drove in two runs July 5, his first game back from the minors.
The Braves wasted a big chance in the seventh when Freeman led off with their first hit. Atlanta then loaded the bases with one out on a single by Gattis and Uggla was hit by a pitch.
Gee threw his gutsiest pitches of the night with the bases jammed. First Chris Johnson grounded to third baseman Wright, who rushed the slow bouncer and threw home for a fielder's choice. Then Gee tossed two pitches in the dirt that pinch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich chased for an inning-ending strikeout. Mets fans gave Gee a loud cheer as he walked off the field.
Gee was lifted after 96 pitches and seven innings, allowing two hits and three walks. He has tossed 13 2-3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
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