Mets beat Braves to complete spring sweep

March 27, 2008 5:27:33 PM PDT
The last thing Willie Randolph wanted to see four days before the Mets' season opener was Oliver Perez sprawled face down on the first-base line - and not moving.No wonder Randolph ran from the third-base dugout on a straight line for Perez, who fell in a heap after throwing a runner out in New York's 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

Finally, Perez pushed himself off the ground and left the field with Randolph following the play that ended the sixth inning. Obviously relieved and managing a smile, Randolph playfully slapped Perez on the back of the head as they neared the dugout as if to say "Don't scare me like that!"

Perez fielded a grounder between the mound and first base and threw out Josh Anderson before falling on the base line, his face on the chalk and dirt.

"It was kind of funny when he got up and turf was all over his face and all in his bubble gum and everything," Randolph said.

"I think he was more embarrassed that he fell on his face."

The manager acknowledged the play gave him a scare.

"For a second there my heart skipped a beat, but he was all right," Randolph said. "I didn't really see anything happen but when he didn't get up I was like 'Wait a second here."'

Perez said he needed a minute to catch his breath after falling on his stomach.

"I just tripped," the left-hander said. "I threw it and fell."

Perez, who remained in the game, said he was not hurt. "No, not any problem," he said.

Perez gave up seven hits and three runs in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked one as the Mets and Braves each relied heavily on backups.

The Mets won each of three spring games between the NL East rivals.

The Braves, playing their last spring game in Florida, opened the game with three relievers from their major league roster. They then turned the game over to minor league right-hander Charlie Morton, who gave up three runs and three hits in three innings, and three minor league relievers.

"Morton was just way off," Braves manager Bobby Cox said of the right-hander who spent the 2007 season at Double-A Mississippi. "It was a good day except Morton had a rough outing. He's got a chance to be really good."

Atlanta's Peter Moylan gave up three hits and three runs in the first. Marlon Anderson drove in two with a double.

Atlanta's Chris Resop and Royce Ring each pitched a scoreless inning.

Mets catcher Raul Casanova hit a home run in the seventh off Luis Valdez, who gave up four hits and three runs.

Endy Chavez was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Ryan Church was 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI for the Mets.