NEW YORK -- The Mets may be stumbling down the stretch of what is likely to be a fourth-place finish in the NL East, but two of September's bright spots continue to shine. Brandon Nimmo rapped out three hits Monday in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Citi Field, and Travis d'Arnaud drove home a pair in the Mets' 3-2 win over the Braves. Atlanta took the matinee, 9-2.
"It's huge to finish off this week strong, so we're headed off on the right foot for the start of next year," d'Arnaud said.
One of the Mets' hottest hitters since mid-August, Nimmo doubled in the first inning, singled and scored in the third and doubled again in the seventh. D'Arnaud drove home one of the Mets' two third-inning runs with a double, then tacked on some insurance with a solo homer in the eighth. He eventually gave way to a trio of relievers, including closer Jeurys Familia, who converted his second save since coming off the disabled list last month.
It was enough damage to back Seth Lugo in perhaps his best start of the season. Needing just 81 pitches to complete six innings, Lugo struck out seven, walked none and allowed just two hits.
Lugo out-pitched Braves starter Max Fried, who gave up seven hits and a walk, but limited the damage to two runs -- one earned -- in 5 1/3 innings.
"I just went out there and did everything I possibly could to keep us in the game," Fried said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Little bit of hittin' Fried: The Mets finally turned their copious baserunners into offense after Fried committed a throwing error in the third inning, giving them two men in scoring position with no outs. Asdrubal Cabrera plated one run with an RBI groundout, then d'Arnaud sent the second home on a run-scoring double. Only one of the two runs was earned.
"I have to make that swinging bunt play," Fried said, referring to his error. "That's a play that has to be made. The inning compounded, there was two errors in that inning. Can't do that. Put us behind, and it was a tough spot after that."
Striking out the side: The Braves saw 13 pitches in the fifth inning, swung and missed at five of them and wound up with a trio of strikeouts. All three of those whiffs came on fastballs, though Lugo mixed in his offspeed pitches liberally throughout the inning. He wound up striking out seven Braves in a 10-batter stretch that included the fifth inning.
"Executing pitches, that's what's big for me," Lugo said. "When me and the catcher are on the same page -- and me and Travis have been like that lately -- I can trust that if I don't know what to throw, he knows what I want to do. It makes my job a lot easier."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Across Atlanta's two previous doubleheaders this month, Ender Inciarte went 13-for-18 at the plate. That success did not necessarily carry over to Monday, when he went 2-for-8 with a walk. He is now one hit shy of hit No. 200 on the season.
The Mets set a new franchise record with 219 home runs in a season, topping last year's record of 218.
THE APPLE (EVENTUALLY) RISES
Following d'Arnaud's home run in the eighth, a murmur rippled through the crowd as fans realized Citi Field's home run apple had not risen from its casing in center field, as it does after all Mets homers. Pockets of fans began chanting "We want apple!" until the fruit in question finally obliged, eliciting a loud ovation.
"I saw it go up and everyone went nuts," d'Arnaud said. "That was cool. That was fun and entertaining."
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:R.A. Dickey will take the mound against his former team for the third time this season. Dickey, who won the 2012 Cy Young Award as a member of the Mets, owns a 2.78 ERA in 46 career starts at Citi Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Mets: Rafael Montero will look to end his season on a high note when he makes his final start of the year Tuesday at Citi Field. Montero, who is 2-2 with a 6.16 ERA in four September starts, is scheduled to take the mound at 7:10 p.m. ET.