ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves entered from center field for their home opener, running down a red carpet to the cheers of 47,144 fans before their game against the New York Mets.
But the grand entrance wasn't enough to make up for the Braves' ongoing offensive struggles, and they fell 4-0 on a night highlighted by a pregame ceremony honoring the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron's 715th home run that broke Babe Ruth's career record.
Aaron Harang continued Atlanta's run of surprisingly strong starting pitching so far this season, giving up just two hits and allowing a single run on a wild pitch while striking out nine over six innings, but the Braves bullpen faltered and the offense couldn't dent the scoreboard. Harang struggled with control, walking four and throwing the wild pitch that allowed Ruben Tejada to score.
Gus Schlosser could only get one out in the top of the seventh while giving up two hits, and he was credited for two runs that scored on a single by Eric Young given up by Luis Avilan.
Avilan left the game after suffering a hamstring cramp trying to avoid the barrel of Daniel Murphy's bat, which shattered on a line-drive single to centerfield.
In the top of the eighth, Ian Thomas gave up another run on two hits.
Offensively, Atlanta could never put together enough hits until the ninth. The Braves had a hit in each of the first four innings, but three of those came with two outs and were left stranded.
Atlanta wasted another two-out hit by third baseman Chris Johnson in the sixth inning, and Andrelton Simmons continued the trend when he singled with two outs in the seventh but was left on base when Jason Heyward grounded out to second base to end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Atlanta finally got a leadoff hit when Justin Upton singled off Jose Valverde, and Dan Uggla followed with a single that just got under the glove of Wright at third base.
Catcher Evan Gattis grounded to short and Upton was forced out at third base. Simmons appeared to have grounded into a game-ending double play, but Valverde threw wide to second and everyone was safe. However, pinch hitter Gerald Laird popped out to second with the bases loaded, and Heyward send a charge through the crowd when he hit a long drive to center field. But Mets center fielder Juan Lagares tracked the ball down on the warning track to end the game.
New York shortstop Ruben Tejada went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Young and Travis d'Arnaud each was 2-for-4 in the win.
Bartolo Colon picked up the pitching win for the Mets, scattering six hits over seven innings with five strikeouts.
Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...