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Braves move closer, pound Mets pitching in 15-2 rout

Freddie Freeman added three more hits to his burgeoning MVP campaign, Ozzie Albies hit two of Atlanta's six homers and the Braves battered New York Mets pitching Friday night in a 15-2 blowout that thrust them closer to a third consecutive NL East title.

Max Fried (7-0) returned from a brief stay on the injured list due to a back spasm and breezed through five innings that only help his credentials for the NL Cy Young Award. The left-hander hasn't allowed a home run since Sept. 10 last year.

Freeman laced a two-run double and Marcell Ozuna followed with a long two-run homer in the second off Steven Matz (0-5), handed his latest drubbing in a lost season as he came back from shoulder discomfort.

Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna hits a three-run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

Atlanta pounded out 17 hits and opened a four-game lead over second-place Miami, which lost at home to Washington. The Braves have nine games remaining.

The most effective pitcher for the Mets was veteran third baseman Todd Frazier, who tossed a 1-2-3 ninth that included a called strikeout of Adam Duvall.

New York began the day 1 1/2 games out of the final NL playoff spot.

Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

Nine days after setting a National League record for runs since 1900 in a 29-9 romp against the Marlins, the Braves appeared eager to threaten their own mark already as Travis d'Arnaud and Albies each hit a two-run homer in a six-run fourth against Franklyn Kilome. Nick Markakis hit a two-run double.

Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley also went deep for Atlanta. Acuna also doubled and scored three times in the leadoff spot.

With the Mets needing a solid start from its ragged rotation to rest an overtaxed bullpen, Matz couldn't deliver in his first start and second appearance since Aug. 15. He gave up hits to the first four batters of the game and needed 76 pitches to get through 2 2/3 innings.

New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz reacts while walking to the dugout after being relieved during the third inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

New York's past three starters, Jacob deGrom, Seth Lugo and Matz, have combined to give up 15 earned runs and 20 hits in 6 1/3 innings. The Mets rallied to win the previous two games in Philadelphia anyway, but were never in this one at all.

LAME DUCK GM?

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said nothing has changed for him on a day-to-day basis and he hasn't spoken with Steve Cohen since Monday's announcement that the billionaire hedge fund manager has agreed to buy the club from the Wilpon and Katz families. The deal is subject to the approval of Major League Baseball owners. Van Wagenen, who reiterated he doesn't think about his own job security, said he and Cohen had a chance to sit down and get to know each other a bit last winter and talk about ideas and philosophies.

New York Mets center fielder Jake Marisnick cannot catch a two-run home run by Atlanta Braves' Ozzie Albies during the fourth inning of a baseball game on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

“I know he's competitive,” Van Wagenen said.

Van Wagenen said his past interactions with Cohen have been positive. Cohen also entered negotiations to buy the Mets last year, but the deal fell apart in February. He bought an 8% limited partnership stake in 2012 for $40 million.

On another topic, Van Wagenen said the Mets have had “preliminary conversations in the past” about a new contract for Michael Conforto.

Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr., right, celebrates after hitting a solo home run with teammate Freddie Freeman (5) in front of New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos during the sixth inning of a baseball game on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: Fried was reinstated from the 10-day injured list Thursday, and Atlanta optioned RHP Bryse Wilson to its alternate training site.

Mets: After leaving Wednesday night's outing in Philadelphia with a right hamstring spasm, deGrom remains day to day. Manager Luis Rojas said the team still has plans for deGrom to make two more starts this season, which would likely require a return by Tuesday. ... 2B Robinson Canó was hit on the left wrist by a 92 mph sinker from Fried in the fourth and removed in the sixth. ... RHP Dellin Betances (right lat tightness) faced hitters Thursday at the alternate site. “I heard he's doing great,” Rojas said. ... Kilome, sidelined since Sept. 2 with a split fingernail, was activated from the injured list. INF Luis Guillorme was optioned to the alternate site.

Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) celebrates after hitting a double in front of New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano during the first inning of a baseball game on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

UP NEXT

Braves: Rookie RHP Ian Anderson (3-0, 1.64 ERA) makes his fifth major league start Saturday night. The 22-year-old Anderson, drafted third overall in 2016, went to high school in Clifton Park, about 170 miles north of Citi Field. But he was a Boston Red Sox fan, like his dad. Anderson said he has two brothers living in New York City, though with no fans permitted at the ballpark because of the coronavirus, his family and friends won't get the chance to see him pitch in person. “It definitely would be nice to have them down here,” he said. “They would all love to be here.”

Mets: Rookie LHP David Peterson (4-2, 4.17 ERA), a first-round pick in 2017, tries to steady New York's reeling rotation. Peterson allowed three runs over six innings and struck out a career-high eight Aug. 2 in a 4-0 loss at Atlanta.

New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz walks to the dugout after being relieved during the third inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

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Atlanta Braves' Nick Markakis hits a two-RBI double during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

New York Mets' Robinson Cano, left, reacts as he is checked by a team trainer, center, after being hit by a pitch during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. Mets manager Luis Rojas, right, looks on. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

Atlanta Braves' Travis d'Arnaud hits a two-run home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)

New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier, left, tags out Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman during the first inning of a baseball game on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in New York. (AP PhotoAdam Hunger)