Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez argues with umpire Chad Fairchild before being ejected during the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on Thursday. The Mets won easily, 7-4.
NEW YORK — In the last 5 1/2 weeks, the New York Mets have been pretty good.
David Wright is well aware that they have to be much better to really make any noise in the final two-plus months.
Games like Thursday’s 7-4 win against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves that featured Wright’s controversial RBI triple, flashes of dominance from rookie Zach Wheeler and 14 hits will help if the Mets can do it more consistently.
“I think we’ve been the opposite of consistent; we’ve been very inconsistent,” Wright said. “We started off pretty well, we’re starting to play better baseball as of late, but as I’ve mentioned before, we dug ourselves quite a hole the first six weeks of the season. So now, we’ve got to be better than pretty good to get back in this thing. Unfortunately for us, we got off to such a bad start that we have an uphill battle.”
Wright was among several Mets who had a productive day in New York’s 12th win in 20 games this month and 20th in 34 games since June 16 when they were an out from dropping to 25-40 before beating the Chicago Cubs on a game-ending home run by Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Daniel Murphy and Marlon Byrd had three hits apiece and John Buck drove in three runs on a day when the Mets stranded 14 and went 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
“Everybody wants to get in on the act and we’ll continue to go back to the Cubs game,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “After that game, I think our guys realized this thing is not over until the last out is made.
Playing less than 24 hours after getting hit in the back of the head with his bat, Wright had the key triple in New York’s three-run sixth. The Mets already regained the lead on Murphy’s RBI single through a hole in the infield to left field when Wright stepped in.
Facing reliever Kameron Loe (0-1), Wright drove a 1-2 slider to the left-center field warning track and the ball appeared to hit gate behind an advertisement in front of a standing-room only section.
Atlanta center fielder Reed Johnson did not chase after the ball and neither did left fielder Evan Gattis because they thought it was going to be a ground-rule double. Umpires ruled it a triple and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez engaged in a brief argument before ejected by third base umpire Chad Fairchild.
Umpires refused comment when asked by a pool reporter. Gonzalez limited discussion of it by saying:
“I don’t think I needed a replay to know I was right,” he said. “I thought (Dan) Uggla’s home run call was harder to make to be honest.”
Wright said, “I looked at the umpire because I thought the umpire made the safe call. I just was running. I haven’t seen the replay. “
Wright’s career-high sixth triple of the season gave Wheeler (4-1) his third straight win on a cool and cloudy afternoon when he struggled with the strike zone at times. Wheeler had first-pitch strikes on eight of 25 hitters while throwing 53 of 95 pitches to strikes.
His two worst pitches were a 3-1 fastball that Uggla hit to left field for a two-run homer in the fourth and a 1-0 fastball that Freddie Freeman blasted to straightaway center field leading off the sixth.
“He pitched really well,” Uggla said. “He made one mistake to me and one mistake to Freddie.”
Among his best pitches was a fastball that frustrated Justin Upton so much in the first inning that slammed his bat several times against the bat rack in the dugout.
“To have a guy like that -- Upton -- frustrated because he’s missing fastballs … yeah, they’re over the middle, but they’ve over the middle and they have late life on it, movement on it,” Buck said. “He’s gaining more and more control of his stuff and understanding how to pitch.”
The Mets have scored 32 runs in Wheeler’s first four victories as he tries to figure out throwing his fastball consistently for strikes to opposing hitters.
“I’ve been struggling all year so far with getting ahead,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to allow me to do a lot better, keep my pitch count down and let me go deeper into games and sort of set guys up instead of trying to burn a fastball by them every time.”
David Aarsdma and LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless inning apiece. Bobby Parnell did the same in the ninth for his 20th save in 24 opportunities.
Buck had three RBIs as he capped New York’s four-run third against Atlanta starter Alex Wood with a two-run single. Marlon Byrd also had a run-scoring single and Justin Turner added an RBI groundout for the Mets, who improved to 12-8 in July.
Wood was recalled to make a spot start for Paul Maholm and allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.
NOTES: The Braves said RHP Tim Hudson will be out for the season after fracturing his right ankle on a bang-bang play at first base when he collided with Eric Young Jr. on Wednesday night. Hudson will need surgery, but it will not take place until the swelling subsides. … The Braves also said LHP Paul Maholm is not on the disabled list yet. Maholm injured his left wrist in Saturday’s 10-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox and likely will be headed to the DL. If that happens, RHP Brandon Beachy could take Maholm’s spot. Some fans criticized Young for the play on Twitte,r but he responded on his personal page with the following tweet: “For people who think I would purposely try too hurt someone and felt they needed to ay that 2 me. I will continue to pray for you as well.” … After Wednesday, some of the Mets visited with Hudson in the X-ray room. … Young left the game after the third with right knee pain and was replaced by Andrew Brown. The Mets do not believe the injury is serious.