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Matz helps keep Mets hot with 8-2 win over struggling Braves

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ATLANTA (AP) David Wright hit a two-run double, Steven Matz earned his second straight win and the New York Mets stayed hot by beating the power-deprived Atlanta Braves 8-2 on Saturday night.

Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera hit back-to-back home runs in the ninth against right-hander Ryan Weber. The Mets had 15 hits and have homers in eight straight games.

Matz (2-1) allowed two runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. The Mets have won seven of nine, including the first two games of the series against Atlanta.

The Braves have lost four straight and were held without a homer for the 12th straight game. Atlanta is last in the majors with only three homers through 17 games – 22 fewer than the Mets. It is the team’s longest drought since going 13 straight games without a homer in May, 1983.

Wright had two doubles, including his fourth-inning drive into the right field corner that drove in Travis d'Arnaud and Curtis Granderson. Juan Lagares had a run-scoring triple in the three-run ninth.

Mets leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson had two hits and scored two runs one day after driving in five runs with two homers, including a grand slam.

Matz gave up a run-scoring single to Freddie Freeman in the third inning. The left-hander was pulled after allowing a run-scoring single to Nick Markakis in the seventh.

Matz is 4-0 in six career road starts, including back-to-back wins at Cleveland and Atlanta this season.

Jhoulys Chacin (0-1) allowed four runs, three earned, in 5 2/3 innings.

UMPIRE CHANGE

Greg Gibson replaced injured Jeff Kellogg as acting crew chief for games Saturday and Sunday. Kellogg was the home plate umpire when he was hit by a foul tip in the first inning on Friday night. He left the game after the inning. MLB spokesman Mike Teevan said Kellogg is considered day to day. Teevan didn’t disclose the nature of Kellogg’s injury.

BULLPEN HELP

The Braves optioned right-hander Casey Kelly to Triple-A Gwinnett and recalled left-hander Matt Marksberry from Gwinnett. Marksberry replaced Chacin in the sixth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: OF Yoenis Cespedes was held out after aggravating his bruised right leg while sliding into second with a double in Friday night’s game. Manager Terry Collins said Cespedes may miss more than one game. “The bruise is pretty big. It’s looking pretty bad,” Collins said.

Braves: OF Ender Inciarte, on the DL since April 9 with a strained left hamstring, may return in about two weeks. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Inciarte is hitting in extended spring training games but not running full speed. Gonzalez said the plan is to “ramp him up” in a few days.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom will start Sunday against the Braves after missing one turn because of a sore right lat muscle and another start due to his son’s health concern. DeGrom joined the team Saturday and said his son had a form of apnea that caused him to stop breathing after falling asleep. He said his son no longer has the problem.

Braves: The team is expected to recall RHP Aaron Blair or RHP Mike Foltynewicz from Triple-A Gwinnett for the start. The Braves optioned RHP Williams Perez to Gwinnett on Wednesday, leaving a spot in the rotation vacant.

Marlins clinch 1st playoff berth since 2003, beat Yanks 4-3

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK (AP) Forced from the field by COVID-19, the Miami Marlins returned with enough force to reach the playoffs for the first time since their 2003 championship.

An NL-worst 57-105 a year ago, they sealed the improbable berth on the field of the team that Miami CEO Derek Jeter and manager Don Mattingly once captained.

“I think this is a good lesson for everyone. It really goes back to the players believing,” Mattingly said Friday night after a 4-3, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.

Miami will start the playoffs on the road Wednesday, its first postseason game since winning the 2003 World Series as the Florida Marlins, capped by a Game 6 victory in the Bronx over Jeter and his New York teammates at the previous version of Yankee Stadium.

“We play loose. We got nothing to lose. We’re playing with house money.,” said Brandon Kintzler, who got DJ LeMahieu to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded after Jesus Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th. “We are a dangerous team. And we really don’t care if anyone says we’re overachievers.”

Miami (30-28), second behind Atlanta in the NL East, became the first team to make the playoffs in the year following a 100-loss season. The Marlins achieved the feat despite being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that prevented them from playing for more than a week.

After the final out, Marlins players ran onto the field, formed a line and exchanged non socially-distant hugs, then posed for photos across the mound.

“I can’t contain the tears, because it’s a lot of grind, a lot of passion,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “It wasn’t just the virus. Last year we lost 100 games. But we came out this year with the hope everything was going to be better. When we had the outbreak, the guys who got an opportunity to help the organization, thank you for everything you did.”

Miami was one of baseball’s great doubts at the start of the most shortened season since 1878, forced off the field when 18 players tested positive for COVID-19 following the opening series in Philadelphia.

“Yeah, we’ve been through a lot. Other teams have been through a lot, too,” Mattingly said “This just not a been a great situation. It’s just good to be able to put the game back on the map.”

New York (32-26) had already wrapped up a playoff spot but has lost four of five following a 10-game winning streak and is assured of starting the playoffs on the road. Toronto clinched a berth by beating the Yankees on Thursday.

“I don’t like any time somebody celebrates on our field or if we’re at somebody else’s place and they celebrate on their field,” Yankees star Aaron Judge said. “I’m seeing that too much.”

Mattingly captained the Yankees from 1991-95 and is in his fifth season managing the Marlins, Jeter captained the Yankees from 2003-14 as part of a career that included five World Series titles in 20 seasons and is part of the group headed by Bruce Sherman that bought the Marlins in October 2017.

Garrett Cooper, traded to the Marlins by the Yankees after the 2017 season, hit a three-run homer in the first inning off J.A. Happ.

After the Yankees tied it on Aaron Hicks‘ two-run double off Sandy Alcantara in the third and Judge’s RBI single off Yimi Garcia in the eighth following an error by the pitcher on a pickoff throw, the Marlins regained the lead with an unearned run in the 10th against Chad Green (3-3).

Jon Berti sacrificed pinch-runner Monte Harrison to third and, with the infield in, Starling Marte grounded to shortstop. Gleyber Torres ran at Harrison and threw to the plate, and catcher Kyle Higashioka‘s throw to third hit Harrison in the back, giving the Yankees a four-error night for the second time in three games.

With runners at second and third, Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly.

Brad Boxberger (1-0) walked his leadoff batter in the ninth but got Luke Voit to ground into a double play, and Kintzler held on for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Miami ended the second-longest postseason drought in the majors – the Seattle Mariners have been absent since 2001.

Miami returned Aug. 4 following an eight-day layoff with reinforcements from its alternate training site, the trade market and the waiver wire to replace the 18 players on the injured list and won its first five games.

“We’re just starting,” said Alcantara, who handed a 3-2 lead to his bullpen in the eighth. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

TOSSED

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected for arguing from the dugout in the first inning. Plate umpire John Tumpane called out Judge on a full-count slider that appeared to drop well below the knees and Boone argued during the next pitch, to Hicks, then was ejected. Television microphones caught several of Boone’s profane shouts.

“Reacting to a terrible call and then following it up,” Boone said. “Obviously, we see Aaron get called a lot on some bad ones down.”

ODD

Pinch-runner Michael Tauchman stole second base in the eighth following a leadoff single by Gary Sanchez but was sent back to first because Tumpane interfered with the throw by catcher Chad Wallach. Clint Frazier struck out on the next pitch and snapped his bat over a leg.

SLOPPY

New York took the major league lead with 47 errors. Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference for the third time in five days and fourth time this month.

REMEMBERING

Mattingly thought of Jose Fernandez, the former Marlins All-Star pitcher who died four years earlier to the night at age 24 while piloting a boat that crashed. An investigation found he was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system. The night also marked the sixth anniversary of Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium.

UP NEXT

RHP Deivi Garcia (2-2, 4.88) starts Saturday for the Yankees and LHP Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.84) for the Marlins. Garcia will be making the sixth start of his rookie season.