Inspired by Kevin Pillar's return to the dugout, the New York Mets got homers from Jonathan Villar and Tomás Nido, an unlikely hit from Tommy Hunter and strong performances by a string of relievers to beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 Tuesday night and win their 9th game in the last 12.
Villar hit a two-run shot in the third inning, and Nido won it for the Mets in the ninth with a tiebreaking drive into the left-field seats off struggling Braves closer Will Smith.
One night after being struck in the face by a 95 mph fastball, Pillar Brought the Mets Lineup Card to home plate before the game, a gesture that brought a huge sigh of relief to both teams.
With his face swollen and badly bruised, Pillar still managed a smile as he shook hands with the umpires and Braves coach Walt Weiss, who gave him a warm pat on the shoulder.
Pillar is likely to be out for an extended period, but the injury-plagued Mets carried on just fine without him.
Austin Riley and Freddie Freeman homered for Atlanta. Marcell Ozuna tied it for the Braves with a single in the eighth off Jeurys Familia (2-0).
But Nido helped the Mets pull it out in the ninth with his second homer of the season Edwin Diaz pitching for the third straight day for the first time this season worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save.
Making his second career start, Atlanta rookie Tucker Davidson retired the first seven Mets hitters before Hunter — the Mets batted the pitcher in the eighth spot-- picked up his first career hit by lining a clean single to left field with one out in the third,
The 34-year-old reliever had batted only four other times in a 14-year big league career spent mostly in the American League.
With everyone on the top step of the Mets dugout to applaud his accomplishment, Hunter waved in their direction, gave a little shake of the hips and fist-bumped first-base coach Tony Tarasco.
Hunter's hit proved huge. With two outs Villar drove a 1-1 pitch into the seats, in left-center for a two-run shot.
The first place Mets improved to 20-16 and continue to lead the second place Phillies by one game in the standings and four in the loss column. The Third Place Braves Trial by four in the standings and seven in the loss column. The Mets go for the three game sweep at Truist Park Wednesday night at 7:20 as David Peterson (1-3, 4.86) goes for the Mets and Charlie Morton (2-2, 5.08) goes for the Braves.
(Photo: Getty Images)