ATLANTA — New York Mets manager Terry Collins would prefer to stick Michael Conforto’s bat in the middle of the lineup. But the way the left fielder is performing in the leadoff role, don’t expect Conforto to move any time soon.
Conforto continued his offensive splurge since being moved to the leadoff spot, coming up with a home run and three RBIs in the Mets’ 7-5 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
“It’d be nice to have him in the middle of the lineup if we had a bunch of guys getting on base to drive in runs,” Collins said. “But we’re not scoring a lot of runs, so why not let him hit where he’s producing a lot of runs?”
Conforto was 2-for-4 with a walk and his seventh home run of the season. He improved to 14-for-40 (.350) in the 10 games in which he has batted first in the lineup.
Conforto led off the game with a home run for the third time this season. He also had a two-out two-run single to cap a five-run outburst in the fourth that put the Mets ahead to stay. The three RBIs matched his career high.
“I watched Rickey (Henderson) do it and I watched Grandy (Curtis Granderson) do it,” Collins said. “You lead the game off and they don’t want to walk you. They want to throw strikes. They’re kind of attacking early, and he’s getting good pitches to hit.”
Winning pitcher Robert Gsellman (1-2) allowed five earned runs for the second straight start. The right-hander pitched five innings and allowed six hits and one walk without striking out a batter, and he nearly allowed a 6-1 lead to slip away.
“I got a lot of ground balls today,” Gsellman said. “I had my sinker down in the zone a little more, and that led to a lot of ground balls.”
The Mets got four innings of scoreless relief from Josh Edgin, Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, who pitched a scoreless ninth for his fifth save of the season.
Atlanta starter Julio Teheran (2-2) allowed six runs in six innings, one more run than he had allowed in his seven previous starts combined against New York. Teheran struck out five and walked three before being lifted for a pinch hitter. He gave up five runs in the fourth.
“Nothing was working,” Teheran said. “One bad inning that I had and they took advantage. I tried everything.
“When you don’t have your stuff, all you have to do is battle and I battled that inning, stayed on my plan, but it just didn’t work out.”
The Mets got an insurance run in the eighth when Jose Reyes hit a solo homer, his third home run of the season, against reliever Ian Krol.
Both teams hit home runs to lead off the game. Conforto got the Mets on the board with a shot to center, and Ender Inciarte answered by starting the bottom of the inning with a homer to right field for the Braves.
Two leadoff batters last started a game with home runs on Sept. 14, 2016, when Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon and Arizona’s Jean Segura did it.
The score stayed tied until the Mets sent 10 men to the plate in the fourth and produced five runs to take a 6-1 lead. Neil Walker, Jose Reyes and T.J. Rivera each drove in one run, and Conforto knocked two with a single.
“It was the one inning that got away from him a little,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said of Teheran. “He regrouped and kept the game in check and we came back. A lot of time that big inning is hard to overcome.”
Atlanta got two runs back in the bottom of the third. Nick Markakis plated a run with an infield grounder, and Adonis Garcia added an RBI single to make it 6-3.
The Mets, whp have won three of their past four, bounced back from a 23-5 loss to the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
“I think it’s very important,” Collins said. “We have taught this for a number of years. Yesterday was an ugly, ugly day. The injury (to pitcher Noah Syndergaard) was bigger than the score of the game for me. It just goes to show you, it’s only one game and you’ve got to move on.”
NOTES: The Mets put RHP Noah Syndergaard on the 10-day disabled list with a partial tear in his right lat muscle. He was replaced on the roster by RHP Paul Sewald, who has split time with the Mets and Triple-A Las Vegas. No starting pitcher has been named for Syndergaard’s spot in the rotation on Friday, but manager Terry Collins said the best bets are LHP Sean Gilmartin and RHP Rafael Montero. … Atlanta RHP Mauricio Cabrera will pitch one inning for Triple-A Gwinnett on a rehab assignment Tuesday. Cabrera has been out all season with a right elbow strain. … Braves OF Ender Inciarte was presented his Gold Glove in a pregame ceremony. … Atlanta 2B Brandon Phillips went 0-for-4, ending his 13-game hitting streak. … Braves 1B Freddie Freeman scored two times. He has scored in nine consecutive games.