NEW YORK -- Long since out of contention for a postseason berth, the Mets have used September as a proving ground for their younger players. Some, such as Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, are top prospects, obvious pillars of the future. Others, such as Travis Taijeron, are organizational pieces attempting to demonstrate their worth.
Taijeron did a fine job of that Tuesday at Citi Field, collecting his first career walk-off hit in the Mets' 4-3 win over the Braves. Kevin Plawecki sparked the winning rally with a single to open the ninth against A.J. Minter, who then walked Smith to put pinch-runner Juan Lagares in scoring position. After Rosario struck out, Taijeron pulled a single over left fielder Jace Peterson's head to end things.
"It's one of the best feelings," Taijeron said. "Especially in that opportunity right there where we could win the ball game, I was just fired up."
Taijeron's hit abruptly ended a game that the Braves controlled for most of the night. Making what might have been his final career start -- he has hinted at retirement, though nothing is certain -- R.A. Dickey blanked his former Mets teammates for the first six innings. He finally cracked for a pair of runs on Plawecki's homer in the seventh, and the Mets tied things an inning later off reliever Sam Freeman.
"The [knuckleball] to Plawecki kind of rolled up there and he barreled it," Dickey said. "That was really the ball game for me, was giving up that two-run home run. If that doesn't happen, if I get a call here or there, I'm pitching into the ninth. I had really good stuff."
Atlanta's early lead came courtesy of Ender Inciarte, who led off the game with his 200th hit and came around to score. The Braves plated two more runs in the second inning off Mets starter Rafael Montero, who settled down after that to deliver his first quality start in five September outings.
"I was able to make some adjustments from the third inning on," Montero said through an interpreter, "and from there I was able to hold them."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Into the record books: Leading off the game with a double, Inciarte became the seventh Braves player to record 200 hits in a season since the franchise moved to Atlanta, and the first since Marquis Grissom in 1996. Inciarte quickly made his historic hit count, racing home on Nick Markakis' single to score the game's first run.
"I'm enjoying it right now," Inciarte said. "This is so hard to do. I'm proud of what I've accomplished."
Comeback kids: Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo snapped Dickey's streak of 12 consecutive batters retired when he singled with one out in the seventh. The next man to the plate, Plawecki, fouled off four pitches before smashing a two-run homer over the wall in left. Two batters later, Dickey was out of the game.
"It's great coming back here. I have a lot of history here. This is a place where I really resurrected my career, so there's some poetry to throwing well here, especially one of the last outings of the year. It was nice to tip my hat to a bunch of fans who really supported me while I was here and beyond being here," -- Dickey, on returning to Citi Field
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Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman finished 2-for-5, collecting his 142nd and 143rd hits against the Mets since 2011. That's 39 more than anyone else in baseball the past seven years.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Sean Newcomb (4-8, 4.32 ERA) will be the third Braves rookie to start against the Mets in the four-game series. Two of the left-hander's best starts have come against the Mets, most recently on Sept. 15. The final matchup between the two teams is set for a 7:10 p.m. ET first pitch.
Mets:Robert Gsellman (7-7, 5.38 ERA) will look to end his disappointing season on a high note when he takes the mound for the final time Wednesday at Citi Field. A preseason National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate, Gsellman is 2-2 with a 3.82 ERA in seven starts since coming off the disabled list in August.