David Peterson strikes out career-high 10 as Mets beat Braves, 7-2

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NEW YORK — The Mets are not yet mathematically dead. Their postseason hopes seem bleak, though. They can only control this: Winning.

One reason that has been difficult for them this season is because their starting pitching has often imploded. Short starts. Poor starts. Both at the same time.

With the Mets fighting to keep pace in the chase for a playoff berth, rookie David Peterson recorded the best start of his career. Because of it, the Mets (24-28) on Saturday beat the Braves, 7-2, at Citi Field and, for now, kept their postseason dream alive.

Peterson struck out a career-high 10 batters as he went six innings, matching the longest start of his career (he also went six on Aug. 2 in Atlanta). He only allowed one run, a sixth-inning solo blast from Adam Duvall.

Other than Jacob deGrom, the Mets’ starting rotation has been a mess. The two offseason acquisitions, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha, have underperformed. Injuries forced the club to stretch out two bullpen arms in Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. Steven Matz has regressed. The team has required a couple spot starters, too.

Peterson has been a pleasant surprise. He’s only turned in one poor start — against the Phillies on Labor Day. He’s shown promise, his best quality being the poise that allows him to escape trouble.

On Saturday, Peterson showcased that ability once again as he kept the Braves off the board until his final inning. The Mets’ offense remained rather tame, which made Peterson’s performance that much more important.

Even if it seems unlikely the Mets reach the postseason, anything can happen. Each night, it feels like their season is on the line. They must win — a lot.

On Saturday, the rookie left-hander helped keep them alive.

This season, Peterson has faced many spots in which he could have unraveled. Good starts could have turned ugly.

Many times, he’s found ways to maneuver out of trouble. Sometimes he’s limited the damage, other times he’s escaped unscathed.

He did the latter for most of Saturday’s start.

The first inning: Peterson walked Ronald Acuna Jr. to begin the game, but picked him off at first.

The second inning: Peterson allowed a walk and a double to begin the inning, then got a pop-up and two strikeouts to keep the Braves off the board.

The third inning: Peterson worked around two walks to hold Atlanta scoreless.

In the first inning, Robinson Cano gave the Mets the lead with a two-run single. Leads have often evaporated for the Mets because of bad starting pitching.

Peterson never coughed it up, though.

Jeurys Familia had just allowed a solo home run in the top of the eighth. The Braves were within a run.

If you’re a Mets fan, you were probably scared.

Not again, you probably thought.

Well, in the bottom half of the inning, the bats made sure you wouldn’t need to worry. They scored four runs to put the game out of reach, ensuring there would be no unnecessary drama.

Dominic Smith and Cano led off the inning with back-to-back solo shots off Atlanta reliever Shane Greene — the fifth time the Mets have hit back-to-back homers this season.

Two batters later, Jeff McNeil doubled. Then Greene hit Andres Giménez. Robinson Chirinos — who has struggled offensively this season but doubled home a run in the fourth — singled to load the bases.

Brandon Nimmo provided the breathing room with a two-run single.

Suddenly, the Mets led by five.

Justin Wilson entered into an awful situation.

Bases loaded. One out. Two-run lead.

The worst part: Freddie Freeman at the plate. Not only that, but Freeman had already struck out three times against Peterson. He was due.

Wilson, however, got Freeman to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the top of the seventh inning. It was one of the game’s biggest moments.

At that point, it seemed the Mets might lose after Miguel Castro loaded the bases.

Instead, Wilson saved them.

An inning later, New York put the finishing touches on a victory it needed to remain in the postseason chase.


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