NEW YORK — Bartolo Colon drew all sorts of nods, taps and tributes in his return to Citi Field during a sharp debut for Atlanta, and Matt Kemp’s third double of the game in the 12th inning led the Braves over the New York Mets 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Kemp’s two-out, bases-loaded liner off Rafael Montero (0-1) gave Atlanta its first win of the season after losing on opening day. Jim Johnson (1-0) worked two scoreless innings.
Colon was perhaps the most popular Mets player over the previous three seasons. He led the team in wins, starts and innings last year, then became a free agent and signed with a guaranteed spot in the Braves’ rotation.
The Mets honored Colon with a pregame montage on the video board, highlighting his pitching, fielding and first career home run last year. Fans cheered as the clips ended with: “Welcome Back Bart.”
Pitching a day after the 20th anniversary of his major league debut, and now just more than a month shy of turning 44, Colon was as nifty as ever. He tossed two-hit ball -- including a home run by Jay Bruce -- for six innings, striking out six and walking one.
Jacob deGrom threw six shutout innings for the Mets. The shaggy-haired ace needed surgery last September to reposition a nerve in his pitching elbow. He gave up two hits, struck out six and walked one.
Colon drew a standing ovation when he came to bat in the third, tipping his hat to the announced crowd of 28,113 and pointing to the sky. Earlier, Curtis Granderson nodded toward his former teammate when he hit.
As he walked from the bullpen to the dugout before the game, Colon sneaked up behind a security guard and bounced a ball off the man’s belly, and they both laughed. When Colon grounded out in the sixth, he carried his bat down the line and jogged with it the whole way back to the bench, cracking up deGrom.
Adonis Garcia’s double in the seventh made it 1-all.
Brandon Phillips singled in the 11th, giving him a hit in all 35 road games he’s played against the Mets. It’s the longest road hitting string in the majors by anyone vs. the same opponent since Ducky Medwick’s 46-gamer at Brooklyn from 1933-37.