ATLANTA - Bryce Elder has posted better pitching lines this season. He hasn't had a more impressive recovery, though, and his ability to regroup set the stage for a Braves comeback against the division-rival Mets.
Orlando Arcia drove in the go-ahead run in Atlanta's four-run sixth, Elder overcame his worst inning of the season and the Braves beat New York 6-4 on Tuesday night.
Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso hit two-run homers in the third, but Elder (4-0) followed that up with three scoreless innings.
"To be able to continue to throw well and give us a chance was a positive," Elder said.
New York (30-31) lost its fourth straight, matching a season high. The Mets hope to follow the path of the 2022 Braves, who overcame a slow start to catch New York and win the NL East on a tiebreaker after each team won 101 games.
"We know they're going to be a competitive club all year and we're trying to be the same," said Mets manager Buck Showalter.
The Mets led 4-1 before starter Carlos Carrasco allowed three runs in the sixth. Arcia's RBI single off reliever Drew Smith deflected off the glove of diving second baseman Eduardo Escobar to give Atlanta a 5-4 lead.
Sean Murphy doubled in two and scored the tying run on Marcell Ozuna's double off Smith (3-2).
Carrasco gave up six hits, including a second-inning homer to Ozzie Albies, and four runs in five-plus innings.
Elder began the night leading the majors with his 1.92 ERA and had allowed only four homers, all solo shots, before his third-inning struggles. Lindor's shot to right field drove in Omar Narváez, who singled. Elder then walked Jeff McNeil before Alonso's majors-leading 22nd homer, a 448-foot blast to left field.
Elder's ERA rose to 2.26 as he allowed a season-high four runs with eight strikeouts, also his 2023 high mark, in six innings.
"That's huge when something like that happens and you don't let it get away from you," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Elder's ability to regroup after the third.
Eddie Rosario doubled to left field off Adam Ottavino in the eighth and moved to third on McNeil's fielding error. After Ottavino walked Albies, Rosario scored on Ozuna's groundout. Albies was running on the pitch and was initially called out at second on an inning-ending double play, but the Braves successfully challenged and Albies was ruled safe after a replay review.
Raisel Iglesias got three outs for his eighth save.
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 40 minutes by rain in the area.
SMITH-SHAWVER HEADED TO ROTATION
Snitker confirmed before the game that 20-year-old rookie AJ Smith-Shawver will make his first start in the majors on Friday or Saturday against Washington. Shawver, called up from Triple-A Gwinnett on May 30, allowed no hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief at Arizona in his debut Sunday.
Smith-Shawver moves into the rotation spot vacated when Michael Soroka was optioned to Gwinnett on Monday.
HE SAID IT
The Braves are not the only team to go through rotation uncertainty due to injuries and struggles by starting pitchers this season. More than once, Atlanta has listed a projected starter as "TBA" and Snitker says it's a common occurrence.
Said Snitker: "That TBA guy, he's got a lot of brothers."
'THROW IT AGAIN'
Following his long homer, Alonso was recorded yelling toward Elder, "Throw it again, please," a reference to the slider from the right-hander.
Elder said after the game he didn't hear Alonso but wasn't insulted.
"If I hit it to the concourse, I might holler, too," Elder said.
Mets: Narváez (left calf strain) was activated from the injured list Monday and C Tomás Nido was designated for assignment. Narváez will share time with rookie Francisco Álvarez behind the plate, though Showalter wouldn't commit to an even split. He said Álvarez will start Wednesday night. "We'll try to take advantage of both their skills," Showalter said. "We'll see how it develops, but I'm excited to have two good catchers."
Braves: RHP Michael Tomkin (strained neck) began his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Snitker said Soroka, who had an 8.38 ERA in his first two starts since 2020 following two Achilles tendon tears, "still needs to get those reps down in Triple-A. ... He kind of felt it, too."
Mets RHP Max Scherzer (5-2, 3.21 ERA) will face Braves RHP Charlie Morton (5-6, 3.62) in a matchup of veterans as the series continues Wednesday night. Scherzer is 13-10 with a 3.77 ERA against Atlanta. Morton is 4-6 with a 3.82 ERA versus the Mets, including a 5-3 loss May 1 in New York.
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