NEW YORK (AP)Pete Alonso hit his 52nd homer to match Aaron Judge’s rookie record, and the New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 Friday night.
Alonso connected in the first inning against Dallas Keuchel, narrowly clearing the wall in left field for a solo shot that tied Judge’s mark from his breakout season with the New York Yankees in 2017.
The 24-year-old Alonso smiled as he hurried around the bases. He did handshakes with teammates outside the dugout and took a curtain call on the top step to big cheers from the crowd at Citi Field. He has two games left to surpass Judge and maintain his major league lead.
Braves star Freddie Freeman returned to the lineup and went 0 for 5 after taking four days off to rest his sore right elbow. The four-time All-Star has a career-high 38 homers but none since Sept. 1, and the NL East champions are hoping to get him right before they open an NL Division Series on Thursday.
With Ronald Acuna Jr. resting his tight left hip for the rest of the regular season, the Braves dropped to 97-63, ensuring the club will fall short of 100 wins. They haven’t reached triple digits since 2003.
Keuchel (8-8) allowed four runs over five innings in his final postseason tuneup. The left-hander was pulled after 98 pitches.
Mets starter Marcus Stroman (10-13) pitched two-run ball over six innings in his season finale, and J.D. Davis hit his 21st homer.
Seth Lugo pitched the final two innings for his sixth save a day after manager Mickey Callaway said he’d limit Lugo to one-inning appearances with New York eliminated from postseason contention. Lugo struck out two, setting a career high with 104 for the season.
Alonso has already set franchise records for homers, total bases (343) and extra-base hits (84). He has 119 RBIs and 100 runs, becoming the first Mets rookie to reach triple digits in both categories. No New York player had reached those totals in any season since David Wright and Carlos Beltran in 2008.
Alonso’s 119 RBIs are five shy of Wright’s franchise record set in ’08.
The righty-hitting Davis hit a two-run drive to right off Keuchel in the fourth to put the Mets up 4-2.
Stroman allowed hits to four of his first five hitters – the out was scorched 104 mph by Freeman for a fielder’s choice – and trailed 2-0 after the top of the first inning. He finished with eight strikeouts, six hits and a walk.
Over 11 starts after being acquired from Toronto in July, the 5-foot-7 Stroman went 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA.
Todd Frazier tested Braves left fielder Nick Markakis on Joe Panik’s fly ball in the seventh and was easily thrown out trying to score from third. Markakis, a three-time Gold Glove Award winner, had just three outfield assists entering Friday, tied for the fewest of his career.
Braves: Freeman said he couldn’t straighten his right arm before resting this week, but now feels like he’ll be good to go through the postseason. He expected to play all three games this weekend. … OF Ender Inciarte (strained right hamstring) felt discomfort trying to run this week and has been shut down. Manager Brian Snitker said Inciarte may be ready by the second round of the playoffs. He last played Aug. 16.
Mets: 2B Robinson Cano was held out of the lineup with New York out of postseason contention.
Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (8-5, 4.46 ERA) is 4-0 with an 0.69 ERA in four starts this month, setting in nicely following a rocky season. He’ll face Mets lefty Steven Matz (10-10, 4.37 ERA).
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