published Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Reyes-led Mets hold off Braves

Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens comes out of the baseball game during the sixth inning after loading the bases against the New York Mets, June 14, 2011, in Atlanta. New York won 4-3. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens comes out of the baseball game during the sixth inning after loading the bases against the New York Mets, June 14, 2011, in Atlanta. New York won 4-3. (AP Photo/John Amis)

ATLANTA — Jair Jurrjens couldn’t slow Jose Reyes.

Neither could the muddy basepaths.

Reyes had three hits, two steals, an RBI and scored two runs to lead the New York Mets to a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.

“I told him the other day, if I wasn’t playing baseball I’d probably buy a ticket to come watch him play,” said New York’s Willie Harris, who followed Reyes in the batting order and had a hit and a steal and scored a run.

Reyes’ 34th multihit game — tops in the majors — helped Jonathon Niese (6-5) win his third straight decision.

“When he gets on base, we’re going to go as a team,” Mets catcher Josh Thole said of Reyes. “We did that exactly tonight. He set the tone.”

Reyes led off the game with an infield hit and then, slipping in the thick, wet dirt beside first base, barely made it back to the bag on two pickoff attempts from Jurrjens. First base umpire Bill Miller and crew chief Tom Hallion called for dry dirt to be added to the basepath, too soggy from pregame watering.

Reyes then stole second and scored on Beltran’s single to center.

Asked if he can remember a basepath being so wet, Reyes said: “No, not that I remember.”

Reyes, who has 22 stolen bases, didn’t know if he was the reason the dirt was muddy.

“It was a little wet,” he said. “I don’t know if they did that on purpose. ... I don’t care if it’s wet or not, I’m going to try to steal anyway.”

Niese allowed two runs on five hits and no walks in 6 1/3 innings.

“Lately, I’ve been feeling a little more consistent, more confident with each pitch I throw,” Niese said

Jurrjens (8-3), who began the night with the best ERA in the majors at 1.82, set season highs with five walks, eight hits and four runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings.

Dan Uggla’s homer off Jason Isringhausen in the eighth cut the Mets’ lead to 4-3. Chipper Jones followed with a long drive that a leaping Carlos Beltran caught in front of the right-field wall.

Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save as the Mets won for the eighth time in 12 games.

Reyes and Harris had singles in the third before advancing with a double-steal. Jurrjens’ walk to Daniel Murphy loaded the bases. Angel Pagan’s single to right drove in Reyes, and Harris scored on Lucas Duda’s sacrifice fly to center for a 3-1 lead.

Reyes, hitting .346, added a run-scoring single off Jurrjens in the sixth. He has scored 21 runs in his last 17 games and leads the majors with 97 hits.

When asked how long he believes Reyes can remain hot, Mets manager Terry Collins said: “How many games have we got left? I hope it’s that long.”

Added Collins: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody sustain it the way he has for three and a half, four weeks.”

Joe Mather singled in David Ross in the second for Atlanta. Ross knocked Niese out of the game with a run-scoring double in the seventh.

Jurrjens has allowed more than two runs in only two of his 12 starts this season — both against the Mets. The right-hander gave up four runs, three earned, in a 5-0 loss at New York on June 4.

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel loaded the bases in the ninth with two walks and a hit batter before striking out Ruben Tejada to end the inning.

First baseman Freddie Feeman was scratched from Atlanta’s lineup with a mild right oblique strain he suffered in pregame batting practice, leaving the Braves without five regulars. Three starting outfielders — Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Martin Prado — are on the disabled list. Catcher Brian McCann didn’t start but remained in the game after striking out as a pinch hitter in the seventh.

Freeman is listed as day-to-day. After striking out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, Braves middle infielder Diory Hernandez stayed in the game and played first base for the first time in three seasons.

Heyward, with Class AAA Gwinnett on a rehab assignment, could return from his right shoulder injury as soon as tonight.

Mets third baseman Justin Turner, subbing for injured David Wright, is expected to miss a couple of days with swelling in his right hand. Turner said he hurt his hand when he was jammed at the plate. Murphy started at third base.

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