Morton, Olson lead Braves to another easy win over Mets, 5-0

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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ATLANTA – The Atlanta Braves never seem to get flustered.

Less than two weeks ago, the World Series champions endured a miserable series against the team they’ve been chasing in the NL East pretty much all summer.

They haven’t lost since.

Charlie Morton was dominant on the mound, Matt Olson and Robbie Grossman went deep, and the Braves made it eight in a row with a 5-0 blanking of the division-leading New York Mets on Tuesday night.

The last time these teams met in Queens, it was the Mets winning four of five. In Atlanta, the Braves have won the first two games of a four-game set by a combined margin of 18-1, closing the gap on New York to 3 1/2 games.

“You’re going to have series that don’t go your way,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. Just fight through it.”

Morton (6-5) surrendered three hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings, posting his fourth double-figure strikeout game of the season with 12 Ks. His curveball was especially effective, which is why he threw it on nearly half of his 97 pitches.

“Holy cow, that was vintage Charlie right there,” Snitker said. “His breaking ball was something else.”

It was quite a contrast to the Mets’ starting situation.

For the second night in a row, their pitcher was lifted after two innings because of an injury. This time, it was 10-game winner Taijuan Walker making the early exit because of back spasms.

Walker said his back tightened up after he covered first to get the final out of the second. He’s not sure if he’ll be able to make his next start.

“I tried to bend over. When I tried to come back up, it just locked up on me,” Walker said. “I’ve never had anything like this before. The training staff is not too concerned about it. So I’ll get an MRI tomorrow and kind of see how I feel.”

The previous night, Carlos Carrasco went out with a strained left oblique. A 13-game winner, he was placed on the injured list before the game and is expected to miss up to a month.

R.J. Alvarez (0-1), who was called up from Triple-A Syracuse before the game, took over for Walker and surrendered a 413-foot homer to Grossman, the second batter he faced. The blast into the right-field seats was Grossman’s first homer for the Braves since being acquired from Detroit ahead of the trade deadline.

Alvarez served up an even deeper homer to Olson in the fourth, a two-run shot for his 25th of the season.

Right fielder Starling Marte didn’t even budge as the 443-foot drive sailed far over his head – a no-doubter as soon as it left the bat.

Olson added a run-scoring single in the seventh to finish with three RBIs on the night.

Alvarez worked 2 1/3 innings, giving up four hits, three runs and three walks. At least he managed to stay on the mound longer than either of New York’s last two starting pitchers.

Dylan Lee took over for Morton in the seventh and struck out Jeff McNeil with two runners aboard to end New York’s biggest threat.

LONG WAIT

Alvarez marked a couple of firsts.

The 31-year-old right-hander pitched in the majors for the first time since Sept. 29, 2015, when he worked two scoreless innings for Oakland against the Los Angeles Angels.

This was the first decision of Alvarez’s big league career. In 31 previous appearances, he posted a 7.39 ERA without earning a win or loss.

Since his stint with the A’s, Alvarez has pitched for seven minor league teams, mostly in Triple-A.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: The injuries to Walker and Carrasco could be a huge blow to the New York rotation. The 35-year-old Carrasco is 13-5 with a 3.92 ERA, while Walker is 10-3 with a 3.36 ERA. … 3B Eduardo Escobar (left oblique) was scratched from the lineup before the game and appears headed for the injured list. The Mets are expected to call up one of their top prospects, Brett Baty, to fill in at third while Escobar is out.

Braves: RHP Mike Soroka, who has twice torn his right Achilles tendon, took a huge step in his two-year recovery. He pitched four scoreless innings for High-A Rome in his first official rehab appearance, surrendering only one hit with eight strikeouts and no walks. … C Chadwick Tromp went on the 10-day IL with a strained left quadriceps sustained last weekend in his Atlanta debut. With Travis d'Arnaud recovered from a lower leg injury, Tromp is likely headed back to Triple-A when he’s healthy.

UP NEXT

New York RHP Max Scherzer (8-2, 1.93 ERA) looks to beat the Braves for the third time this season. He has allowed one run on seven hits over 14 innings in his two previous starts against Atlanta, with 20 strikeouts and no walks. The Braves counter with RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-4, 3.80), who will be making his third start since coming over from Houston at the trade deadline. He is is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA for the Braves, having surrendered 14 hits and four walks in 8 2/3 innings.

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.