Braves rally again as Mets have first five-game skid since 2021

AP photo by John Bazemore / The Atlanta Braves' Michael Harris II dives into second base on an RBI double in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's home game against the New York Mets.

ATLANTA — For all of the heat the rivalry between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets has produced during their time together in the National League East Division, right now they're apparently not interested in letting it boil over to anything beyond competitive baseball.

Case in point: Braves starter Charlie Morton went to find Pete Alonso and apologize for hitting the Mets slugger with a pitch that knocked him out of Wednesday night's game. Alonso appreciated the gesture, and afterward he sought to cool any potential suggestion of a bigger meaning at play.

"He came up after I got X-rayed," Alonso said. "He was looking for me. He just wanted to apologize. Obviously he didn't mean to. For people speculating for this or that, I just wanted to clear that. Chuckie's a good guy, and the situation didn't call for it either. There's nothing to it. I just happened to get hit with an up-and-in fastball."

Michael Harris II hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off Adam Ottavino in the eighth inning, and the Braves rallied for a 7-5 win, their fourth straight victory overall and second straight over the Mets.

The Braves (37-24), who are seeking their sixth straight division title, have a three-game lead over the second-place Miami Marlins (25-28). The third-place Mets (30-32) wasted a three-run lead for the second straight night, dropping 7 1/2 games behind Atlanta, and they have lost five straight for the first time since 2021.

Alonso was hit on the left wrist by a 96 mph fastball from Morton in the first inning. The Mets said Alonso, who leads Major League Baseball with 22 homers this season, has a bruise and will get a CT scan Thursday.

"That's super promising that the X-rays are negative," Alonso said. "I mean, we're going to get additional imaging with a little bone scan tomorrow just to double check. It's super encouraging, but at the same time we want to see how the swelling plays, you know? Hopefully it goes down sooner rather than later, and I can get right back on the horse."

Alonso was booed in pregame introductions and before his at-bat. A night earlier, Alonso homered in the third inning of a 6-4 loss and shouted from the dugout at Braves starter Bryce Elder: "Throw it again! Throw it again, please! Throw it again!"

Elder said after that game that he didn't hear what Alonso said at the time and wasn't insulted anyway: "If I hit it to the concourse, I might holler, too."

Some fans cheered when Alonso was hit by the pitch Wednesday, but the New York first baseman said he harbors no ill will.

"Yeah, I think obviously that's a consequence of what I said in the dugout and the hot mic," Alonso said. "It's just unfortunate because I think it got blown out of proportion. It's just friendly competitive banter. I guarantee you if you were to mic both dugouts, you're going to hear certain things that people could take offense to, but for me I didn't mean anything by it."

Morton allowed four runs, four hits and four walks in a season-low 4 2/3 innings.

Mets starter Max Scherzer gave up five runs and 11 hits, one shy of his career high, in 5 2/3 innings. Scherzer struck out 10 batters in the 111th double-digit strikeout game of his MLB career, passing Roger Clemens for third.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner was chased in the sixth when Harris hit a tying double and scored on Ronald Acuña Jr.'s RBI single for a 5-4 lead.

"We're competing," Scherzer said. "This is Major League Baseball. You want to go out there and be the best, and there are other times that the other team beats you. Today wasn't our day."

Atlanta has won 10 of its past 12 meetings with the Mets, outscoring them 71-41 over that stretch.

Tommy Pham homered for New York, and his sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh made it 5-5. Atlanta's Marcell Ozuna doubled in the eighth off Brooks Raley (1-1), and Harris hit a 443-foot drive against Ottavino for his third homer this year.

Harris struggled with injuries the first two months of the season, but he's starting to produce better results.

"Last night, Marcell came up to me and gave me the pep talk I needed," Harris said after going 3-for 4 and raising his batting average to .181. "Before my last at-bat last night he told my season was starting, and ever since then I've been hitting the ball hard and seeing it good."

Nick Anderson (4-0) pitched a one-hit eighth, and A.J. Minter got three straight outs for his eighth save in 11 chances this year.

Francisco Álvarez hit his ninth homer of the year, a solo shot in the second, and Pham went deep for two runs in the fifth as the Mets built a 4-1 lead. Sean Murphy cut the deficit to 4-3 with a two-run homer in the fifth.

Atlanta made some big plays in the field as well. With the bases loaded in the seventh, Acuña leaped against the wall in right to rob Pham of extra bases and hold him to a sacrifice fly. Harris made a tough play with two outs in the eighth, turning to run backward in center and catch Mark Canha's liner near the wall.

"Honestly we have a tremendous defense, and I think it speaks for itself," Acuña said through a translator. "I think you saw what we can do tonight."

Atlanta has won 10 of its past 12 meetings with the Mets, outscoring them 71-41 over that stretch.

Braves manager Brian Snitker reached 579 career wins to surpass George Stallings for third in franchise history. Bobby Cox, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, tops the list with 2,149 wins, while Frank Selee is second with 1,004.

Atlanta will take aim at a series sweep Thursday night, and right-handers will start for both teams as Justin Verlander (2-3, 4.25 ERA) goes for the Mets and Spencer Strider (6-2, 2.97) gets the ball for the Braves.

Verlander, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in three career starts against Atlanta. Strider, tied for the MLB lead with 113 strikeouts, is 3-1 with a 5.03 ERA in four career starts and two relief appearances against New York.