By Jay Cohen, Associated Press
There were a few well-placed grounders and a couple of liners as the hits piled up in a big eight-run inning. Only this time it was the Atlanta Braves at the plate.
Brian McCann hit a three-run homer and the Braves took advantage of another gaffe by Luis Castillo to put together their second-biggest inning of the season in a 15-2 victory over the sluggish New York Mets on Wednesday.
The Braves’ eight-run second came one night after they lost the series opener when New York had a season-high eight runs and a franchise-record 10 hits in the fourth inning of a 9-4 win.
“I’ve never seen anything like that you know one time and then back-to-back nights so it’s pretty ironic,” said Matt Diaz, who homered and drove in four runs. “It wasn’t anything like payback, ‘Oooh, we’ll get them.’ But last night was tough. It could have crushed us but I was very proud the way we bounced back and put it right back on them tonight.”
McCann’s long drive to right-center off Bobby Parnell was the highlight of Atlanta’s highest scoring inning since it had nine runs in the fourth against Colorado on May 20. It also was the last of the Braves’ season-high seven hits in the frame.
Five runs scored after Castillo failed to cover second on Garret Anderson’s two-out grounder to shortstop Anderson Hernandez with runners on the corners.
“When Garret Anderson hit the ball, Anderson (Hernandez) kind of thought Luis would be covering,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “They’ve got to communicate before the play.”
Omar Infante had three hits and three RBIs for Atlanta, which had a season-high 18 hits in its highest scoring game of the year. Adam LaRoche went deep for the third straight day and sixth time since joining the Braves in a trade with Boston on July 31.
“Rochey’s hot,” manager Bobby Cox said. “He’s really swinging the bat well.”
Jair Jurrjens (10-8) allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings to earn his first win since July 22 against San Francisco. The right-hander also improved to 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA in six career starts against the Mets.
Castillo collected two more hits for New York and is batting .391 (45 for 115) since July 5, but is likely headed for more scrutiny after his latest mental lapse. The normally sure-handed second baseman cost the Mets a win when he dropped a ninth-inning popup in a 9-8 loss at the Yankees on June 12, allowing two runs to score.
This time he barely budged on Anderson’s bouncer to Hernandez, who looked to second before making a late throw to first. The Citi Field crowd booed lustily as Diaz scampered home on Anderson’s infield hit to give Atlanta a 4-0 lead.
Castillo, a three-time Gold Glove winner from 2003-05 with Florida, was replaced before Atlanta batted in the fourth and left the clubhouse quickly after the game. Manuel said he wasn’t removed because of the second-inning play, which the manager chalked up to a lack of communication with the pull-hitter Anderson at the plate.
“Luis has been playing extremely well,” Manuel said. “I wanted to give him a little break. He has a banged-up ankle.”
Parnell fell apart after the misplayed grounder, walking Chipper Jones and uncorking a run-scoring wild pitch before McCann connected on a full-count offering for his 14th homer. LaRoche, the 11th batter of the inning, followed with a popup to Castillo for the final out, leading to sarcastic cheers.
“My game plan is to make them hit the ball,” Parnell said. “Ground balls got through.”
Atlanta and New York became the first teams to exchange innings of eight or more runs on consecutive days of the same series since the Indians and Yankees did it on July 4-5, 2006, according to STATS LLC.
“It was basically the same thing, just a long inning,” McCann said. “Anytime you have a long inning like that, like I said, there’s got to be some luck involved.”
Parnell (3-5) allowed nine runs and nine hits over three innings in his third major league start.
LaRoche and Diaz connected against Tim Redding in Atlanta’s three-run sixth and Reid Gorecki, a Queens native, picked up his first major league hit and RBI in the ninth.
“Got an RBI, got my knock and I’m feeling pretty good,” a grinning Gorecki said.
NOTES: LaRoche’s drive was the 100th homer in 61 games at Citi Field. The new Yankee Stadium reached 100 homers in 28 games, back on June 7. … Manuel said he thinks LHP Oliver Perez (right knee tenderness) will be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday against Philadelphia. … Cox got a tour of the new Yankee Stadium before the game against the Mets. … Braves RHP Tim Hudson, recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery, is scheduled to make his sixth rehab start Sunday against injured White Sox RHP Jake Peavy and Charlotte. “It’ll be fun,” Hudson said.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.