Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) is congratulated after scoring on a wild pitch by New York Mets starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Citi Field on Saturday. (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
NEW YORK — Right-hander Ervin Santana threw seven solid innings Saturday night and the Atlanta Braves staved off eighth- and ninth-inning comeback attempts by the New York Mets in a 7-5 win at Citi Field.
Santana allowed just one run — scored by the first batter of the game, Mets left fielder Eric Young — on six hits and two walks while striking out seven before the Mets scored two runs on four singles in the eighth off right-hander David Carpenter.
But first baseman Lucas Duda’s potential go-ahead homer was caught at the right field wall by Jason Heyward and shortstop Ruben Tejada grounded out to second with runners at the corners to end the eighth.
Braves left fielder Justin Upton crushed a three-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth to provide Atlanta with some insurance it needed. Right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel — appearing in a game for the first time since April 12 — allowed four hits in the ninth, including an RBI double by third baseman David Wright and an RBI single by centerfielder Chris Young.
Kimbrel then walked Duda to load the bases. He was pulled for right-hander Jordan Walden, who earned the save by retiring catcher Travis d’Arnaud on a grounder to short.
The Braves (12-5) scored five of their runs following throwing errors by Mets pitchers. Atlanta took the lead for good following right-handed starter Bartolo Colon’s error in the third, while the ninth began when right-hander Jose Valverde misplayed a comebacker by pinch-hitter Jordan Schafer.
Justin Upton finished 3-for-5 while Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman continued his career-long dominance of the Mets by going 3-for-4 with an RBI single. Freeman is hitting .324 with 13 homers and 49 RBI in 216 career at-bats overall against the Mets and .476 (10-of-21) with one homer and six RBI this season.
Wright and Chris Young each had three hits and two RBI for the Mets (8-9) while second baseman Daniel Murphy had three hits. d’Arnaud had two hits and an RBI.
The Mets went down in order just once in seven innings against Santana, but stranded three runners in scoring position. In addition, a baserunning mistake by Duda may have cost the Mets a run in the second.
Colon allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out six over seven innings.
The Mets took a quick 1-0 lead after Santana — who opened his first start of the season by throwing 20 straight strikes against New York on April 9 — walked left fielder Eric Young leading off the bottom of the first. Young then stole second, took third on second baseman Daniel Murphy’s long flyout to center and scored on Wright’s single past a drawn-in infield.
Mets first baseman Lucas Duda led off the second with a double and took third on a throwing error by centerfielder B.J. Upton, but Duda was caught in a rundown when he broke for home on a grounder to short by catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who ended up stranded at second.
A throwing error by Colon led to the Braves’ two runs in the third. With two outs and runners at first and second, Freeman hit a slow roller back to Colon, whose throw sailed into foul territory behind first base and bounced off the advertising signage. That allowed Santana to score from second and B.J. Upton to race home all the way from first.
Freeman continued his mastery of the Mets in the fifth, when his one-out double scored right fielder Jason Heyward to extend the Braves’ lead to 3-1.
NOTES: Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia, who left his most start Wednesday with a blister, felt fine after a throwing session Saturday and remains scheduled to start Monday. … LHP John Lannan, whom the Mets outrighted on Wednesday, informed the Mets on Saturday he will report to Triple-A Las Vegas. … Braves LHP Mike Minor, who had his rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett rained out Friday, was scheduled to pitch for Gwinnett on Saturday. Minor is on pace to be activated next week. … In producing the Mets’ only hit with an eighth-inning single in Friday night’s 6-0 loss, 3B David Wright ensured a pair of unique no-hitter — or, more accurately, no no-hitter — streaks would remain intact. Despite their pitching-rich tradition, the Braves have not thrown a no-hitter since April 8, 1994, a span of 3,185 games that is the seventh-longest active streak in baseball. And the often offensively challenged Mets have not been no-hit since Sept. 8, 1993, a span of 3,211 games in which only four other teams — the Chicago Cubs, Boston, Oakland and Philadelphia — have not been no-hit.