By The Sports Xchange
ATLANTA — Steven Matz had an impressive return from the disabled list for the New York Mets on Saturday and Seth Lugo matched him Sunday against the Atlanta Braves.
Lugo allowed just one run in seven innings, just like Matz had done in his delayed season debut, and the Mets defeated the Braves 2-1 to take three of the four games in the series.
“It’s a tremendous lift for the club to have those two guys come back,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
The Mets, who held the Braves to six runs in the series, have won 16 of their past 21 games in Atlanta, although their streak of homering in 14 straight games — tying the team record — ended.
“The changeup was the best it’s been as far as I can remember,” Lugo said. “It was working best for me so I stuck with that.”
Pitching with a partially torn elbow ligament, Lugo allowed six hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out six. He threw 60 of his 90 pitches for strikes.
“That’s all I was hoping for today. Go out there, execute some pitches and have some fun,” Lugo said.
Lugo’s fun wasn’t limited to the mound. He doubled in the third inning for his first career extra-base hit and scored what proved to be the decisive run on a two-out single by Juan Lagares.
“I’ve got to do a better job against the pitcher,” Braves starter Jamie Garcia said.
“He kind of ambushed him there,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Yeah, he surprised us.”
Garcia (2-5) took the loss despite striking out a season-high nine in seven innings for the Braves. He allowed seven hits and two runs, with one of his two walks intentional.
It was the fifth consecutive quality start for Garcia, who has 1-3 record in the stretch despite a 1.49 ERA.
“You can’t ask for anything more,” Snitker said. “He’s pitching deep into games, getting out of trouble and making pitches when he has to. It was another good job.”
Catcher Tyler Flowers said, “We need to turn it up soon for him, because he’s pitching really well.”
A successful video review challenge kept the Mets ahead in the fifth, changing a run scoring fielder’s choice into an inning-ending double play hit into by Matt Adams.
Lugo, who won his last five decision in 2016, said he had no concerns about the elbow.
“I haven’t had any symptoms or pain in over a month, so why think about it?” he said.
Addison Reed pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out the final two Braves, for his 11th save.
Wilmer Flores followed a leadoff double by Michael Conforto with a sacrifice fly for the Mets in the first inning, and Dansby Swanson delivered a tying sacrifice fly in the second for the Braves after a double by Flowers.
Mets starters have compiled a 0.83 ERA in their past five games.
“They’re getting healthy and it’s a pretty good rotation now,” Snitker said of the Mets. “They did a really good job in the series.”
NOTES: OF Yoenis Cespedes, who hit a grand slam in his return from the disabled list Saturday, popped out as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Sunday. Manager Terry Collins said Cespedes will start Monday and Tuesday in New York during the three-game series with the Chicago Cubs. … RHP Jacob deGrom (4-3, 4.75 ERA) will pitch the opener against RHP John Lackey (4-6, 5.12 ERA). … The Braves placed LHP Eric O’Flaherty on the 10-day disabled list because of rotator cuff tendinitis in his left shoulder. He gave up six hits and four runs in 1 2/3 innings Saturday to push his ERA to 7.85. … RHP Jason Hursh was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the O’Flaherty’s spot in the bullpen after being sent down before Saturday’s doubleheader. … LHP Sean Gilmartin, dropped from the 40-man roster by the Mets, was claimed off waivers by St. Louis. … Mets 3B Jose Reyes turned 34 on Sunday. … The Braves, 2-4 at home against the Nationals, make their first trip to Washington for a three-game series starting Monday. … RHP Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 3.48 ERA) will start the opener against RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-2, 2.80).