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Max Scherzer, Pete Alonso propel Mets to key sweep over rival Braves

The NL East cannot be won in August, never mind in one series, even if it is five games.

But the Mets are at least giving themselves a little more room to breathe.

Strong starting pitching from David Peterson and Max Scherzer, plus standout offensive performances by Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso, fueled the Mets to a doubleheader sweep of the Braves on Saturday at Citi Field, clinching the pivotal series victory.

After Lindor and Peterson led the way to an 8-5 win in Game 1, Scherzer dominated in the nightcap with Alonso providing much of the offense in a 6-2 victory.

With the sweep, the Mets (69-39) took three of the first four games of the series and pushed their lead atop the NL East to 5 ½ games over the Braves (64-45). It marks their largest lead since June 21, and they have a chance to put an exclamation point on the series on Sunday.

Scherzer, who relishes pitching in the second game of a doubleheader so he has an idea how short the bullpen may be (and it was plenty short Saturday night), gave the Mets exactly what they needed. The ace was masterful across seven shutout innings while striking out 11 on a season-high 108 pitches, finishing in emphatic style by striking out the side in the seventh.

Max Scherzer (left) and Pete Alonso came up big in Game 2 to lift the Mets to a doubleheaders sweep of the rival Braves.
Jason Szenes (2)

Alonso made sure Scherzer got the run support he needed, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. His RBI single in the third inning keyed a three-run rally against Braves ace Max Fried. Alonso later reached on an infield single in the fifth and eventually raced home from third to slide in safely on a play at the plate that put the Mets up 4-0.

The Braves had their best chance off Scherzer in the fifth inning, when they put runners on the corners with one out. But the shutout stayed intact with the help of Luis Guilorme, who fielded a ground ball near the back of the dirt at second base and fired home to nail Travis d’Arnaud. Scherzer then struck out Ronald Acuña Jr. to end the threat.

After the Mets used most of their high-leverage arms, including Edwin Diaz, in Game 1, Mychal Givens relieved Scherzer in the eighth inning and gave up back-to-back doubles that cut the lead to 4-1.

Pete Alonso slides safely into home plate in a collision with Travis d'Arnaud to score a run during the Mets' 6-2 Game 2 win.
Pete Alonso slides safely into home plate in a collision with Travis d’Arnaud to score a run during the Mets’ 6-2 Game 2 win.
Jason Szenes

But Givens buckled down from there. After the Mets added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, Trevor May closed it out in the ninth.

Lindor powered the Mets in Game 1, continuing to swing a hot bat by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. The shortstop, who also had another fine day with his glove, extended his on-base streak to 14 games in the nightcap while batting .328 with a .965 OPS in 32 games since the start of July.

“It’s like you’re mining for gold,” manager Buck Showalter said in between games. “You take a piece of gold and put it over there. You take the rock, you put it over here and you sift some more. When you get enough nuggets, you get to play in October. Lindor’s a nugget.”

Lindor sparked a lineup that piled up 13 hits and went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position in Game 1.

That was enough support for Peterson and four Mets relievers. On a day when the bullpen was short to begin with, Peterson worked around some early traffic to deliver 5 ¹/₃ scoreless innings — earning him a standing ovation as he walked off the mound in the sixth inning. His reward was being optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse after the game so the Mets could call up a fresh arm for the nightcap.

“The biggest thing is just that we’re winning games,” Lindor said. “Who’s on the other side doesn’t matter. You gotta go out there and do it.”

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