ATLANTA — Chris Johnson homered for the first time in more than a month, Kris Medlen overcame a defensive blunder and the Atlanta Braves bounced back from a doubleheader sweep, beating the New York Mets 5-3 Wednesday night.
Johnson hit a three-run homer in the fourth, his first time going deep since May 13.
“It felt good. Not just the homer, but hitting it with guys on base,” Johnson said. “I like to drive guys in.”
Jordan Schafer put the Braves ahead to stay with some gutsy baserunning in the fifth, scoring on a wild pitch that didn’t even roll off the dirt around home plate.
Medlen (4-7) pitched seven-plus innings for his third win in four starts this month, even though he cost himself two unearned runs with an errant throw.
The Braves scored first with two outs in the fourth. B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla hit back-to-back singles, and then Marcum left a 2-0 pitch over the plate to Johnson. He drove it into the left-field seats.
But Medlen gave the runs right back in the fifth.
Marlon Byrd led off with a single and Lucas Duda was plunked, putting two runners aboard.
Medlen got just what he wanted from John Buck – a one-hopper back to the mound. But instead of going to second base for what likely would have been a routine double play, Medlen inexplicably threw to third looking to get a force on the lead runner. Johnson, obviously caught off guard, was late arriving at the bag and the throw was low anyway, skidding into foul territory while both Byrd and Duda came around to score.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with a bloop single just inside the right-field line to bring home the tying run.
“It was like I blacked out, and when I woke up, the ball was in left field,” Medlen said. “It’s one of those plays that as you’re making it, you’re like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’”
The Braves quickly reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Schafer led off with a double and advanced on Andrelton Simmons’ sacrifice before Freddie Freeman walked. It looked as if Marcum might escape the jam when he struck out Justin Upton. But a pitch to Brian McCann bounced off Buck’s chest protector, rolling off to the catcher’s right.
Schafer was nearly halfway down the line already <0x2014> the Mets shifted their defense against McCann, leaving only third baseman David Wright on the left side of the infield <0x2014> and the runner broke for home as soon as he saw the ball get away. Even though it rolled only to the edge of the grass and Buck made a quick flip to Marcum covering home, Schafer slid headfirst under the tag.
B.J. Upton followed with an RBI double that gave the Braves a two-run cushion, finishing off Marcum. He surrendered six hits and walked four in 4 2-3 innings.
Medlen pitched into the eighth, coming out after giving up a bloop single to pinch hitter Josh Satin leading off the inning. Luis Avilan got Mets newcomer Eric Young Jr. to hit into a double play, and Craig Kimbrel struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances.
Medlen gave up six hits and one earned run, struck out seven, and didn’t walk anyone.
Marcum’s start is the worst for a Mets pitcher since Anthony Young lost his first 13 decisions in 1993 on the way to a 1-16 record. The only other pitcher in New York history to begin a season with as many as nine consecutive losses was Bob Miller, who started 0-12 in 1962 before winning his final decision with the woeful expansion Mets.
NOTES: Young started in center field and led off for the Mets, less than 24 hours after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies. He singled on the second pitch of the game and finished 1 for 4. ... B.J. Upton had two hits and a walk. ... The Mets placed RHP Scott Atchison back on the disabled list after he injured his right groin while warming up for an appearance Tuesday night. He had just come off the DL for an ailing elbow, but didn’t even make an actual pitch before getting hurt again.