Mets Drop Opener To Braves, 5-3

Ed Note: Paul Zinn originally wrote this game recap on Mets Fans Forever.

It was an old nemesis that finally got to the Mets tonight.

Chipper Jones had the final go-ahead single as the Braves built a lead, fell behind and then rallied for a 5-3 victory over the Mets tonight at Turner Field as both teams opened a four-game series following the All-Star Break.

Starting the second half, the scenario for the Mets is quite simple. They are very much on the fringe of the NL East race, but they simply can’t afford to fall significantly further behind. And tonight 6 1/2 games became a 7 1/2 game deficit (8 in the loss column) in the NL East since the Philles easily defeated the Marlins 4-0.

This looked like a game the Mets might be able to build off. New York battled all game and was certainly in a position to win the contest, which would have been their third-straight victory.

Yunel Escobar and Garret Anderson hit back-to-back homers in the second off Oliver Perez (2-2), but the troubled starter rallied and ended up with a no-decision, throwing six effective innings. In all, he allowed three runs on five hits while striking out six and walking four.

Meanwhile, the Mets found a way to rally, and it was with the help of Braves’ second baseman Martin Prado. Luis Castillo started the fourth with a single that Prado couldn’t handle, and David Wright followed with a single that put runners on the corners.

Prado then could have turned a double play, but instead, he couldn’t come to grips with Gary Sheffield’s grounder, which went for a single and cut the lead to 2-1.

Jeff Francoeur’s RBI groundout and Daniel Murphy’s run-scoring double then gave the Mets a 3-2 lead.

Francouer, returning to Turner Field after just being traded, was resoundly cheered during his first at bat, while Ryan Church, the other part of the deal, didn’t play until pinch running in the eighth.

Church did score an insurance run on Greg Norton’s RBI single in the eighth.

The Braves tied it in the bottom half of the fourth on a double by Matt Diaz. But Perez and the Mets appeared to regain some momentum when the pitcher worked out of a first and third jam with one out unscathed in the sixth and the game still tied.

In the seventh, though, it was Pedro Feliciano, who put the winning run on with a walk, and Bobby Parnell, who allowed pinch hitter Brooks Conrad to score on Jones’ single that proved to be the deciding run.

Derek Lowe, coveted during the offseason in some Mets’ circles, allowed three runs in six innings as the Braves’ starter, but it was Manny Acosta who worked the seventh inning for the victory.

Game two of the series will be tomorrow night at 7:35 p.m. when Mike Pelfrey (7-4) faces Jair Jurrjens (7-7).