Ozzie Albies hits three-run homer as Braves sweep Mets with another comeback

AP photo by John Bazemore / Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies celebrates after hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning against the New York Mets on Thursday night. Atlanta rallied from 9-5 and 10-7 deficits to win 13-10 on Thursday and sweep the three-game series after trailing by three runs in each of the first two games.

ATLANTA — Ozzie Albies' walk-off homer for the Atlanta Braves did more than just complete their three-game sweep of the New York Mets and leave a division rival even further behind in the National League East standings.

It sealed a win that made Atlanta comeback history.

Albies lined a three-run homer to right field with two outs in the 10th inning, and the Braves rallied to beat the reeling Mets 13-10 on Thursday night.

The Braves trailed 9-5 and 10-7 in the finale after erasing three-run deficits in each of the first two games of the series, winning 6-4 on Tuesday and 7-5 on Wednesday. It marked the first time since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966 that the Braves won three straight games after trailing by three or more runs.

What did it mean for that to come against the $355 million Mets?

"I don't have to say," a smiling Albies said in the clubhouse.

"I think the best thing we do is don't give up," he added. "Yes, we expect to win. That's the way we play."

The Mets made some history they would rather have avoided. It marked the first time in their 62 seasons that they lost three consecutive games they led by three runs or more.

Orlando Arcia hit a tying solo homer off Mets closer David Robertson in the ninth to help the NL East leaders win their fifth straight. Atlanta (38-24), the division's five-time reigning champion, has a 3 1/2-game lead over the second-place Miami Marlins (35-28).

"We're going to continue to fight and battle," Arcia said. "That's who we are."

New York, which has dropped six in a row for the first time since August 2019, had won 122 consecutive games when leading after eight innings, dating to a defeat at Washington on Sept. 6, 2021. The franchise-record streak had been the longest active run for any team in the majors.

The Mets (30-33) are 8 1/2 games behind the Braves and fell back to fourth in the standings, behind the Philadelphia Phillies (30-32) but ahead of the Washington Nationals (25-36), who visit Atlanta to start a three-game series Friday.

The Mets wasted two home runs from rookie Francisco Álvarez and an early grand slam from Brandon Nimmo as three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander was ineffective.

New York, which matched a season low at three games under .500, has lost seven straight games in Atlanta and nine of its past 10 there, but manager Buck Showalter sought consolation in his team scoring eight runs off Braves starter Spencer Strider.

"Guys came in here and competed as good as you want to see," Showalter said. "They came in here tonight against one of the best pitchers in the league, and I'm real proud of them. There were a lot of opportunities there to fold the tent, and these guys aren't going to do that."

  photo  AP photo by John Bazemore / New York Mets starter Justin Verlander pitches during Thursday's game against the host Atlanta Braves.

Albies homered off Tommy Hunter (0-1) to drive in pinch-runner Sam Hilliard, who entered as the automatic runner at second base in the 10th, and Travis d'Arnaud, who walked. Albies' homer, his 14th of the season, sent players spilling out of the Atlanta dugout for an on-field celebration capped by a shower of ice, liquids and bubble gum at the plate.

New York led 10-7 entering the eighth before d'Arnaud hit a two-run homer off Drew Smith. Robertson was summoned to try to get a five-out save but gave up Arcia's one-out homer in the ninth. It was his second blown save in 12 chances this year.

Nimmo's grand slam in the second gave New York a 5-3 lead, and Álvarez drove in three runs with his two homers. The Mets had 14 hits, including three by Starling Marte, but it wasn't enough as Atlanta launched four homers.

Braves closer Raisel Iglesias (2-2) struck out Álvarez and Jeff McNeil in a perfect 10th.

Strider was given a 3-0 lead in the first, when Austin Riley hit a two-run homer, his first of four hits. Strider gave up the lead in the Mets' five-run second and allowed a career-high eight runs in four innings.

Despite the absence of slugger Pete Alonso, scoring was not the problem for the Mets. Alonso returned to New York for further tests after his left wrist was hit by a 96 mph fastball from Charlie Morton in the first inning Wednesday night. The team said Alonso had a bruise, and X-rays revealed no broken bones.

Strider was touched up for five runs on five hits in the second. Nimmo hit a 96 mph fastball over the middle of the plate into the right-field seats for the first slam of his MLB career.

Strider's struggles continued in the fourth when Álvarez hit a two-run homer. He added a solo shot in the sixth.

Atlanta's Marcell Ozuna homered in the fifth, his 12th shot of the season.

The 40-year-old Verlander lasted only three innings, allowing five runs (four earned) and issuing four walks in his first career start at Truist Park, the 34th MLB stadium in which he has started.

"Not many first-pitch strikes," Showalter said. "That's not like him."

Braves right-hander Michael Tomkin, who had been recovering from a neck strain, allowed two runs in two innings in relief of Strider after he was recalled from his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett.

The Braves will keep looking for starting pitching help when 20-year-old rookie AJ Smith-Shawver makes his first career start Friday night against Washington. Smith-Shawver, called up from Triple-A Gwinnett on May 30, will be Atlanta's 12th starting pitcher of the season. The team record is 16, a mark hit four times, most recently in 2016.

The Braves have been forced to patch the rotation after placing left-hander Max Fried (strained left forearm) and right-hander Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation) on the injured list last month. Each will be out at least 60 days.

Smith-Shawver allowed no hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief against the host Arizona Diamondbacks in his MLB debut Sunday. He then realized he was headed for his first start, his primary role in the minors, when he was asked to throw on the side Tuesday.

"I wouldn't have thrown on the side if I was in the bullpen," he said. "I'm just excited for the opportunity, and hopefully I make the most out of it and give us a chance to win."

Washington plans to start left-hander MacKenzie Gore (3-4, 3.66) on Friday. Gore allowed three hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings in a 4-1 home win over the Braves on April 2.