video thumbnail

Gonzalez on Braves' 6-1 loss vs. the Mets

ATLANTA -- Tommy Hanson's fastball had more life and he looked like the top-flight pitcher he was before his shoulder became a problem after last year's All-Star break. But his promising evening and the Braves' five-game winning streak ended when he threw one too many curveballs to Ike Davis.

Davis drilled a hanging curveball over the right field wall for a three-run, sixth-inning homer that gave Dillon Gee all of the support he would need to help the Mets extend their mastery of the Braves with a 6-1 win on Monday night.

"He just left a breaking ball out over the plate and he hit it out," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That was the name of the ballgame, one pitch. I thought, overall, Tommy was very good. He did a good job, gave us seven innings. We just didn't score runs like we had been."

After scoring at least six runs four times during their five-game winning streak, the Braves looked much like they had while getting swept to open the season against the Mets. They have now dropped each of their first four games against the team that was the overwhelming favorite to end this season in the National League East cellar.

"Even though they have a good ballclub, I never expected to be 0-4 against them," Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. "But this game is a funny game and we've obviously got to make an adjustment against them, because they've really put it to us these first four games."

With Gee allowing just four hits over seven innings, Hanson had little room for error. Unfortunately for the Braves, his error might have come with the decision to throw only curveballs to Davis in the decisive five-pitch at-bat during the sixth inning.

"I'm not going to beat myself over it," Hanson said. "He barreled a curveball and hit it out."

Davis' three-run homer was hit immediately after the Braves had intentionally walked David Wright with a runner on third base and two outs. Wright had four hits in 22 previous at-bats against Hanson. But one of those was a first-inning single that only improved the .571 batting average the Mets third baseman carried into the game.

There did not seem to be anything wrong with the decision to pitch to Davis, who had just two hits in 14 previous at-bats against Hanson. But the pitch selection seemed questionable. The pitch that resulted in the home run was the seventh consecutive curveball the Mets first baseman had seen on the night. In fact, nine of the 10 pitches thrown to him were curveballs.

"If you go back at the records, it's probably three or four fastballs in 30-something at-bats, maybe," Davis said. "The Braves really throw me a lot of offspeed most of the time. I think in the first series, I saw three fastballs in the whole series, so obviously they think I'm a fastball hitter. And I haven't had great success against them, because they've thrown pitcher's pitches with their offspeed pitches."

In fairness, Davis entered the evening hitting just .189 (14-for-89) in his career against the Braves. But it's safe to say he's now had plenty of time to detect a pattern.

"Our scouting report is our scouting report," Hanson said. "That was the pitch I wanted to throw and he got it."

Hanson had retired 10 straight batters and surrendered just one hit before allowing Ruben Tejada to double off the left field wall with one out in the sixth inning. By the end of the evening, he had allowed four earned runs in seven innings. But this still seemed to be the most impressive of the three starts Hanson has made this year. His fastball consistently sat above 90 mph and he touched 92 mph multiple times during his final three innings.

"Obviously, when Tommy Hanson's going up there and throwing up zeroes, it pushes me to do the same thing, to bear down and keep us in the game," said Gee, who allowed just one run in his solid seven-inning effort.

Jack Wilson's one-out, bases-loaded groundout in the second inning gave the Braves the only lead that they have had in the four games played against the Mets this year. But Gee settled down after the second inning and retired 15 of the final 18 batters he faced.

Wilson came within inches of hitting his first home run since Aug. 27, 2009. But his former Pirates teammate, Jason Bay, reached over the left field wall to bring back what would have been a leadoff home run to start the fifth inning.

"We got guys in scoring position and he made great pitches to limit the damage in the [second] inning and get out of the other jams," Wilson said. "When it counted, [Gee] made the pitches and we didn't get too many to hit." Comments