Donaldson, Keuchel, Braves top Mets 2-1 for 8th win in row

NEW YORK — Josh Donaldson hit two more home runs against the Mets, Dallas Keuchel pitched his best game of the season and the Atlanta Braves won their eighth in a row, holding off New York 2-1 Sunday.

Atlanta relievers set a team record, too, by extending their string to 25 scoreless innings before the Mets scored in the ninth. Mark Melancon got pinch-hitter Joe Panik to ground out with runners on first and second to end it.

The NL East leaders completed a three-game sweep and matched their longest winning streak of the season. The Braves play Monday at Colorado in a makeup of an April snowout, then start a series at Toronto.

Wearing all-white uniforms on Players’ Weekend, the Mets hardly looked like the team that went into this set at Citi Field with a five-game winning streak. They dropped to 5-11 against Atlanta, long their nemesis.

A day after hitting his 30th home run, Donaldson lofted a high fly over the left field wall in the second inning and lined a drive to deep centre in the seventh for his ninth long ball against the Mets this season. He tied Hank Aaron’s club mark for most homers in a year against the Mets — Hammerin’ Hank did it against the expansion club in 1962.

Keuchel (5-5) allowed four hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking three. Signed by the Braves in June, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner exceeded his previous best start this year, when he blanked the Mets for six innings on Aug. 14.

Keuchel carved up the Mets with his slider, getting slugger Pete Alonso to strike out twice and ground into a double play. On Saturday night, the rookie tied a Mets record with his 41st home run.

Sean Newcomb pitched a perfect eighth and Melancon closed for his sixth save, including a 5-for-5 performance since being traded from San Francisco to the Braves in late July.

The Mets nicked Melancon for a run on a double by Alonso, a single by J.D. Davis and an RBI forceout by Todd Frazier. Pinch-hitter Wilson Ramos singled with two outs, stretching his hitting streak to career high-tying 19 games, before Panik grounded out.

Newcomb extended the Braves’ bullpen streak to 25 shutout innings, the most since the team moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966. The prior mark was 24 2/3 innings in 2013.

Steven Matz (8-8) took the hard-luck loss. He pitched two-hit ball for six innings, striking out six with one walk.

Donaldson connected off Paul Sewald for his 20th career multihomer game and fourth this year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: C Francisco Cervelli got the day off. He made his Braves debut Saturday night and had three hits and three RBIs in his first major league game since May.

Mets: Struggling closer Edwin Díaz had “slightly improved” after leaving in the ninth inning Saturday night with tightness in his back and neck area, manager Mickey Callaway said. Callaway said Díaz was getting the day off. … RHP Marcus Stroman is likely to make his next start as expected, Callaway said. Stroman exited his last start with tightness in his left hamstring.

UP NEXT

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (8-8, 3.53 ERA) pitches at Coors Field against RHP Tim Melville (1-0, 1.29). Teheran is 6-1 in 11 career starts vs. the Rockies.

Mets: After a day off, the Mets open a three-game series at home against the Cubs. Stroman (7-11, 3.18) is listed to face RHP Yu Darvish (4-6, 4.43). Stroman pitched his first career shutout in 2014 with Toronto against the Cubs.

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