ATLANTA — Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning off Dillon Gee, giving the Atlanta Braves a stunning 2-1 victory over the New York Mets on Monday night in a game that was delayed nearly four hours by rain.
Gee (5-7) totally shut down the Braves until the ninth, when Justin Upton singled with one out before Freeman launched a towering drive into the right-field seats on a 2-2 pitch to end a game that didn’t start until nearly 11 p.m.
Until then, Gee had allowed only two runners as far as second base.
David Carpenter (1-0) earned the win with a scoreless ninth. Tim Hudson worked seven innings for the Braves, allowing only Gee’s RBI single with two outs in the seventh.
Rain pushed back the first pitch 3 hours, 43 minutes – the long delay coming at a most inopportune time with the teams facing a day-night doubleheader Tuesday to make up a game that was rained out on May 4.
But at least the Mets got this one in. Not even midway through the season, they’ve already had six games postponed by inclement weather.
The announced crowd of 22,048 appeared to be less than 10,000 by the time the game finally started, and dwindled even more before it ended at 1:22 a.m., less than 12 hours before the scheduled start of the doubleheader at 1:10 p.m. on Tuesday.
Freeman’s homer denied Gee his first career shutout. The Mets starter allowed just five hits.
Hudson pitched around trouble until the seventh. New York pushed runners into scoring position four times in the first six innings, but Hudson escaped three times with strikeouts, the other time with a double play.
Finally, New York broke through. John Buck led off the seventh with a single and scored from second when Gee grounded a single to left with two outs.
Until the ninth, Atlanta’s only serious scoring threat against Gee came in the second, when Freeman led off with a double into the right-field corner. Evan Gattis grounded out, B.J. Upton flied out and Dan Uggla whiffed to end the inning.
Chris Johnson walked with one out in the eighth and moved to second on a groundout, but Andrelton Simmons bounced out weakly to second base to end that threat.
Lucas Duda started at first base and got four hits, after the Mets reversed course on moving him from the outfield to his more natural position. They feared using Duda at first might send the wrong message to former starter Ike Davis, who’s been demoted to Triple-A to try to work out of a massive slump.
Clearly, the move agreed with Duda, who had four hits in a game for the third time in his career. The last came on Sept. 16, 2011, against the Braves in Atlanta.
The storms approached late in the afternoon, bringing out the tarp and cutting short batting practice. Fans scurried for cover as the skies darkened and heavy rain fell for at least an hour.
About 45 minutes after the scheduled first pitch, the rain let up. The crowd cheered when the grounds crew ran on the field to sponge off the tarp and pull it into the outfield, but their hopes of getting started were quickly dashed.
Radar showed another thick line of storms moving in from the west, so Braves officials held off on starting the game. What remained of the sparse crowd had to pass the time by watching coverage of the Philadelphia-Washington game on the big video board in center field. That game ended before this one even started, as did every contest on the East Coast.
After another round of showers, the Braves optimistically announced the game would begin at 10:05 p.m. The tarp was removed, the players warmed up, the lineups were announced, and a choir came out to belatedly sing the national anthem. But the rain picked up again, and the tarp had to be put back on.
Finally, at 10:53 p.m., Hudson threw the first pitch to Juan Lagares.