ATLANTA — – The Atlanta Braves never seem to worry.
Less than two weeks ago, the defending World Series champions endured a miserable streak against the team they’ve been chasing in the NL East for most of the summer.
Since then they have not lost.
Charlie Morton was dominant on the mound, Matt Olson and Robbie Grossman went deep, and the Braves won their eighth straight with a 5-0 rout of the division-leading New York Mets on Tuesday night.
The last time these teams met in Queens, it was the Mets who won four of five. In Atlanta, the Braves have won the first two games of a four-game set by a combined margin of 18-1, closing the gap on New York to 3 1/2 games.
“You’re going to have streaks that don’t go your way,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. Just fight through it.”
Morton (6-5) surrendered three hits and one walk in 6 2/3 innings, posting his fourth double-figure game of the season with 12 Ks. His curveball was particularly effective, which is why he threw it on almost half of his 97 pitches.
“Holy cow, that was vintage Charlie there,” Snitker said. “His breaking ball was something else.”
It was a stark contrast to the Mets’ starting situation.
For the second night in a row, their pitcher went down after two hits due to an injury. This time, it was 10 game winner Taijuan Walker making the early exit due to back spasms.
Walker said his back tightened after covering first to get the final out from second. He is unsure if he will be able to make his next start.
“I tried to bend over. When I tried to come back, it just shut me down,” Walker said. “I’ve never had anything like that before. The coaching staff isn’t too concerned about it. So I’m going to get an MRI tomorrow and see how I feel.”
The night before, Carlos Carrasco was out with a strained left oblique. A 13-game winner, he was placed on the injured list before the game and is expected to miss up to a month.
RJ Alvarez (0-1), who was called up from Triple-A Syracuse before the game, took over for Walker and delivered a 413-foot homer to Grossman, the second batter he faced. The blast into the right-field seats was Grossman’s first homer for the Braves since being acquired from Detroit before the trade deadline.
Alvarez served up an even deeper homer to Olson in the fourth. a two-run shot for his 25th of the season.
Right fielder Starling Marte didn’t even flinch after the 443-foot drive sailed well over his head — one no doubt just off the bat.
Olson added a run-scoring single in the seventh to finish with three RBIs on the night.
Alvarez worked 2 1/3 innings, giving up four hits, three runs and three walks. At least he managed to stay on the mound longer than either of New York’s last two innings.
Dylan Lee took over Morton in the seventh and hit Jeff McNeil with two runners on board to end New York’s biggest threat.
Alvarez scored the first few times.
The 31-year-old right-hander pitched in the majors for the first time since Sept. 29, 2015, when he pitched two scoreless innings for Oakland against the Los Angeles Angels.
It was the first decision of Alvarez’s major league career. In his previous 31 appearances, he posted a 7.39 ERA without a win or a loss.
Since his stint with the A’s, Alvarez has played for seven minor league teams, mostly in Triple-A.
Mets: Injuries to Walker and Carrasco could be a major blow to New York’s rotation. The 35-year-old Carrasco is 13-5 with a 3.92 ERA, while Walker is 10-3 with a 3.36 ERA. … 3B Eduardo Escobar (left oblique) was scratched from the lineup before the game and appears headed for the injured list. The Mets are expected to call up one of their top prospects, Brett Baty, to fill the third spot while Escobar is out.
Braves: RHP Mike Soroka, who has twice torn his right Achilles tendon, took a big step in his two-year recovery. He pitched four scoreless innings for High-A Rome in his first official rehab appearance, giving up just one hit with eight strikeouts and no walks. … C Chadwick Tromp went on 10-day IL with a left quad strain sustained last weekend in his Atlanta debut. With Travis d’Arnaud recovering from a foot injury, Tromp will likely return to Triple-A when healthy.
New York RHP Max Scherzer (8-2, 1.93 ERA) looks to beat the Braves for the third time this season. He has allowed one run on seven hits over 14 innings in his previous two starts against Atlanta, with 20 strikeouts and no walks. The Braves counter with RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-4, 3.80), who will make his third start since arriving from Houston at the trade deadline. He is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA for the Braves, having surrendered 14 hits and four walks in 8 2/3 innings.
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