NEW YORK — It took all afternoon before Curtis Granderson finally generated some goodwill at Citi Field.
The slumping Mets newcomer hit a sacrifice fly in the 14th inning and New York outlasted the Atlanta Braves 4-3 on Sunday to prevent a three-game sweep.
“It felt really good,” Granderson said. “Any way to help the team win a big game.”
David Wright had four hits and New York took advantage of three early errors by Atlanta, which had won seven of eight.
Granderson went 0 for 6 with an error and was booed all afternoon. But he turned those jeers to cheers at the end of a long day.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis drew a leadoff walk from Gus Schlosser (0-1) and advanced on Ruben Tejada’s sacrifice bunt. Eric Young Jr. was intentionally walked to bring up Granderson, hitless in his past 16 at-bats and stuck in a 4-for-44 slide that’s dropped his average to .127.
“I’d rather have chose to pitch to myself as well,” Granderson said, well aware of his early struggles. “I’ve seen it before on the outside looking in, but I’ve never had to deal with it myself to start a season.”
The runners moved up on a wild pitch and Granderson lifted the next delivery into medium left field. Nieuwenhuis slid home ahead of Justin Upton’s throw, and the Mets mobbed Granderson near first base.
“Terrible pitch. Elevated. That’s what he’s trying to do right there and I let him do it,” Schlosser said.
New York manager Terry Collins moved Granderson from cleanup to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, hoping to get him started. Granderson, who even tried an unsuccessful drag bunt Sunday, signed a $60 million, four-year contract in December after an injury-plagued season across town with the Yankees.
“I’m really happy for him,” Collins said. “Something he can build on, move forward, and get it going.”
Jose Valverde (1-0) worked a scoreless inning, hours after he was demoted from his closer role in favor of Kyle Farnsworth.
As late-afternoon shadows crept toward the mound, neither team could muster much offense in extra innings.
Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out five in three hitless innings for the Mets. Called up from the minors last week, Matsuzaka was pitching on consecutive days for the first time in the majors. He made his second career relief appearance in his season debut Saturday night.
“I told him that I could go. When it went into extra innings, I knew I’d have to pitch some,” Matsuzaka said through a translator. “This is my role for the time being, so I’ll do my best.”
Scott Rice kept it tied in the seventh by getting New York nemesis Freddie Freeman to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners.
Mets starter Zack Wheeler tossed six innings against his hometown team before he was pulled for a pinch hitter in a game that lasted 4 hours, 37 minutes.
“You play that long you want to win, obviously. So yeah, that’s rough, but it’s part of it,” Upton said. “Something had to give and it gave their way. Nothing you can do about it.”
Braves rookie David Hale wriggled out of bases-loaded jams in the second and sixth – both after errors by second baseman Dan Uggla. Hale was making his second straight start against the Mets and pitching for the first time in 10 days because his scheduled outing Tuesday in Philadelphia was rained out.
Wheeler helped himself with an early RBI grounder and took a 2-0 lead into the fifth. Then he issued a leadoff walk and the Braves surged ahead with consecutive one-out doubles by Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Freeman.
New York tied it on an RBI grounder by Lucas Duda in the sixth, a double-play ball that could have ended the inning if Uggla hadn’t botched it.
Young scored on Wright’s first-inning groundout after Justin Upton muffed his slicing fly for a two-base error.