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Lugo shines in season debut, Mets beat Braves 2-1

ATLANTA -- Seth Lugo senses that the New York Mets shouldn't be written off just yet.

"I think taking three out of four on the road is huge," he said. "It'll give us some momentum going home playing a couple of good teams."

Lugo became the latest member of the Mets to make a successful return, pitching seven impressive innings in his season debut to lead New York over the Atlanta Braves 2-1 Sunday.

Lugo (1-0) came back from right elbow inflammation that sidelined him all season, helping Mets starters post a 0.83 ERA over the last five games. He gave up one run and six hits, striking out seven and walking two. Lugo also doubled off Jaime Garcia (2-5) and scored in the third for a 2-1 lead.

On Saturday, the Mets swept a doubleheader from the Braves. Yoenis Cespedes was activated from the disabled list and hit a grand slam in the opener, then a healthy Steven Matz made his season debut and won the nightcap.

With Lugo and Matz back in the rotation, manager Terry Collins will use six starters this week. The rotation, which is without injured ace Noah Syndergaard, still has a lot of work to do. New York starters are 19-19 and rank 23rd in the major leagues with a 4.73 ERA.

"I thought our pitching was rounding into shape about a week ago and right now with those guys added to the rotation -- even though we're with six men this week -- I think we're going to start seeing what we expected," Collins said.

The Mets have won four of five heading into a 14-game stretch against four teams that made the postseason last year.

Closer Addison Reed got his 11th save in 13 chances.

Wilmer Flores, who went 6 for 9 in the doubleheader sweep, put the Mets ahead with a sacrifice fly in the first. Lugo scored on Juan Lagares' infield single in the third.

Dansby Swanson had a sacrifice fly for Atlanta. The Braves have lost 16 of their last 21 home games against the Mets.

Lugo, who has won six straight decisions dating to last Aug. 25, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth when Matt Adams grounded into a double play. Collins successfully challenged that Adams didn't beat the throw, preventing the tying run from scoring.

Garcia struck out nine in seven innings. He has a 1.49 ERA over his last five starts but is 1/3 over that span.

"I've got to do a better job against the pitcher," Garcia said, referring to Lugo's double.

STRUGGLES AT THE PLATE

The Braves have grounded into 66 double plays, most in the NL. ... Adams went 1 for 14 in the series. ... Atlanta scored just three runs over the last three games, stranding 23 runners. ... Over the last four games, the Braves are hitting .121 with runners in scoring position.

STRUGGLES AT THE BAG

The umpiring crew had five calls overturned at first during the four-game series.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Collins said before the game that Cespedes will return to the lineup Monday and Tuesday at home against the Chicago Cubs. Cespedes popped up with the bases loaded as a pinch-hitter on Sunday.

ROSTER MOVES

With the return of Lugo, Cespedes and Matz over the last two days, the Mets optioned INF Matt Reynolds, RHP Tyler Pill and INF T.J. Rivera to Triple-A Las Vegas. LHP Sean Gilmartin, designated for assignment to make room for Lugo on the 40-man roster, was claimed off waivers by St. Louis. ... Braves LHP Eric O'Flaherty was placed on the 10-day disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. RHP Jason Hursh was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (4-3) allowed 15 runs in losing his last two starts, raising his ERA from 3.23 to 4.75. He is 1-2 with a 5.31 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs.

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (4-5) didn't allow a run over 14 innings of his last two starts, lowering his ERA from 4.44 to 3.48. He is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three career starts against Washington.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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