Center of Attention: Mets Creep By Braves 6-5

The centerfielders, old and new, did it all on Friday night. Tsuyoshi Shinjo's throw to home nailed the tying run at the plate in the ninth and Jeromy Burnitz, out of the lineup since breaking his hand April 22, returned with a bang. His grand slam, part of a six run New York sixth, helped the Mets edge the Atlanta Braves 6-5 inside Turner Field.

"I had never done this play before in my entire career, making the final play of the game at home plate," Shinjo said to the Associated Press through an interpreter. "I was trying to hit home plate. When I released the ball, I just prayed."

Armando Benitez retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth with a one run lead, but issued consecutive walks to Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones. Julio Franco singled up the middle, but Tsuyoshi Shinjo, a defensive replacement, fired a one hop strike to the plate to cut down Chipper Jones and protect the win.

"Let me tell you something, I could have been standing on third base and I'd still have been thrown out," Chipper Jones said to the Associated Press. "I knew it was going to be tight at home plate. I was just hoping they would drop the ball or something."

It didn't happen and Benitez earned his fourteenth save of the season, even though it should have been credited to his centerfielder.

Behind 1-0 with one out in the Mets' (22-26) half of the sixth, Roger Cedeno doubled down the right field line off Braves' starter Russ Ortiz (6-3) and the very next better, Ty Wigginton, tied the game with a double of his own.

Roberto Alomar -- after striking out in his first two appearances -- put the Mets ahead with a single into right field. The throw from Gary Sheffield was dropped at the plate by catcher Javy Lopez who was bracing for the hard hit that Wigginton was about to deliver.

Cliff Floyd was walked intentionally, first basemen Jason Phillips drew a walk, and then Jeromy Burnitz delivered the first pitch he saw into the left field stands for a grand slam; extending the Mets lead to 6-1.

It was his fourth homer of the year, seventh career slam, and first since Sept. 26, 2001 when he played for Milwaukee.

Javy Lopez had put the Braves ahead 1-0 in the fifth with his eleventh homer of the year.

Steve Trachsel (2-2) retired the first eight batters he faced before Russ Ortiz doubled over the head of Roger Cedeno in the bottom of the third with two outs. The right-hander was 6-9 with a 5.17 ERA in 18 starts against Atlanta in his career coming into the contest.

The Braves (32-16) came right back and got within two in the bottom half of the sixth. Vinny Castilla -- hitting .478 with 5 homers and 10 RBIs in his past 6 games -- drew a bases load walk to chase Trachsel with two outs.

Pedro Feliciano -- recalled when IF Jay Bell was placed on DL Thursday night -- came into the game and immediately surrendered a single to pinch hitter Mark Derosa that plated two runs and brought the Braves to within two runs, 6-4. Pat Strange entered, walked Rafael Furcal, but struck out Marcus Giles on three pitches to end the frame.

Gary Sheffield added his eleventh homer of the year in the seventh off Mets reliever Pat Strange to bring the Braves within a run, but David Weathers worked a scoreless eighth before Benitez closed the door in the ninth.

Steve Trachsel pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed six hits, four runs, and four walks while striking out two. He was coming off a win in San Francisco in which he went eight innings and allowed just one run and four hits.

Russ Ortiz -- 6-1 with a 3.04 ERA lifetime against the Mets -- pitched 5 1/3 innings allowing six runs and six hits while walking two and striking out three.

RHP Armando Benitez has now allowed four hits, no runs, and six walks over his last 14 1-3 innings... OF Jeromy Burnitz was activated from the DL before the game and OF Jeff Duncan was sent back to Binghamton... OF Andruw Jones was 11-for-29 (.379) with three home runs and eight RBIs against Trachsel in his career, but went 0-for-3 against him in this game... LHP Tom Glavine (5-3, 3.41) opposes his former team and LHP Horacio Ramirez (3-2, 3.94) on Saturday afternoon...

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