NEW YORK — Zack Wheeler is still learning how to harness his 95 mph heat. In the meantime, he and the Mets keep winning.
The former Augusta GreenJacket beat the first-place Atlanta Braves for the second time in seven major league starts, and John Buck drove in three runs for New York in a 7-4 victory on Thursday.
Although he had trouble throwing consistent strikes again, Wheeler (4-1) fought through a difficult first inning that included three strikeouts with runners in scoring position.
Since the day he was called up from the minors, the Mets (45-53) are 20-13.
“I’m starting to feel a little bit more comfortable with my mechanics. I’ve just got to trust my stuff and go after guys,” Wheeler said. “I’ve just got to get ahead and start setting guys up. It’s a lot easier when you do that.”
Daniel Murphy and Marlon Byrd had three hits apiece to help the Mets gain a four-game series split. But the news wasn’t all good: Eric Young Jr., a spark in the leadoff spot since arriving in June, was pulled with pain in his right knee.
Young said precautionary X-rays were negative and he hopes to play in today’s day-night doubleheader at Washington.
“Just playing it safe,” Young said. “We didn’t want to try to push it.”
One day after top pitcher Tim Hudson sustained a season-ending ankle injury when Young accidentally stepped on him, the NL East-leading Braves caught another tough break. This time, it was a missed call by the umpires that helped the Mets score two of their three runs in the sixth and led to the ejection of Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez.
With the Mets leading 5-4, New York’s David Wright hit a drive to left-center that bounced up and hit the protective railing above the wall before caroming back onto the field. Center fielder Reed Johnson raised his arms, looking for the ground-rule double signal, but third base umpire Chad Fairchild ruled the ball in play.
Murphy scored and Wright pulled into third with an RBI triple before Gonzalez came out to argue. He took his protest to plate umpire and crew chief Jeff Kellogg before Fairchild finally tossed him.
“I don’t think I needed a replay to know I was right,” Gonzalez said.