Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) attempts to tag out New York Mets’ Curtis Granderson (3) as he safely steals second in the sixth inning Tuesday at Turner Field. (USA Today Sports: Daniel Shirey)
ATLANTA — On the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s historic 715th home run, it was Bartolo Colon who flipped the calendar back.
Colon, who turns 41 in May, didn’t allow a runner past second bases over seven innings as the New York Mets spoiled the Atlanta Braves’ home opener and the Aaron festivities with a 4-0 victory Tuesday night before an announced sellout crowd of 47,144 at Turner Field.
The right-hander allowed six hits, walked none and struck out five, throwing 70 of his 101 pitches for strikes while improving to 1-1 in his first season with the Mets after signing a two-year $20 million deal as a free agent.
The Braves loaded the bases in the ninth inning against Jose Valverde on two hits and the relievers’ throwing error, but Jason Heyward flew out to the warning track in center field to end the game.
It was the fourth victory in as many starts for Colon against the Braves, but the previous three had come in 2002 when the native of the Dominican Republic was pitching for the old Montreal Expos during his only previous National League stint.
Colon was 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA for Oakland last season and has a 190-129 career record over 17 seasons with eight teams.
Aaron Harang, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his first start for the Braves while winning 1-0 at Milwaukee last Wednesday, was almost as good against the Mets as he allowed just two hits in six innings.
The only run off Harang this season came without the benefit of a hit in the third as 34-year-old right-hander walked two and bounced a wild pitch past catcher Evan Gattis.
Harang, who finished last season with the Mets, struck out nine, including five in a row from the fourth through five innings, and walked four before leaving after 110 pitches.
The Mets gave Colon a cushion in the seventh. Rookie catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who had been 0-for-16 before singling in the fourth inning, led off with a double, and Ruben Tejada and Eric Young Jr. followed with run-scoring singles.
Tejada had another RBI single in the eighth inning after Mets manager Terry Collins successfully challenged an out call at first base on Juan Lagares. Collins is 2-0 on challenges this season, both plays involving Lagares.
Young and Tejada each had two hits and a walk, and Young had two of the Mets’ three stolen bases.
The Braves wore throwback uniforms in honor of Aaron, whose record of 755 homers over 23 seasons was eventually bettered by Barry Bonds.
Al Downing, who gave up Aaron’s 715th homer while with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was on hand as part of the anniversary, as well as former Braves teammates Phil Niekro, Dusty Baker and Ralph Garr.
The 80-year-old Aaron, who broke a hip in January and uses a walker, followed commissioner Bud Selig to the microphone and concluded the half-hour ceremony by thanking Braves fans for their long support.
“You were here cheering for me then and you’re here again now,” Aaron said. “Thank you for being in my corner all these years.”
NOTES: RHP Bobby Parnell, the Mets’ closer, had Tommy John surgery on Tuesday in New York to replace the partially torn MCL in his elbow and will be sidelined until next season. … RHP Cory Gearrin of the Braves is headed to Tommy John surgery. The reliever has a torn MCL, and will join RHP Kris Medlen and RHP Brandon Beachy in missing the season. … C Evan Gattis returned to the Braves lineup after sitting out the weekend series in Washington with flu-like symptoms. … RHP Ervin Santana, signed midway in spring training as a free agent after Medlen and Beachy went down, will make his Braves debut on Wednesday night in the middle game of the series. … RHP Zack Wheeler will start for the Mets after going 3-0 against the Braves as a rookie last year.