ATLANTA (AP) — Austin Riley likes where the Atlanta Braves are heading into a big series against the first-place New York Mets.
The Braves have kept winning and chipping away at the Mets’ lead in the NL East.
“I’ve said from the beginning that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Riley said. “Early on things weren’t going our way. Now we’re playing the ball we want to and right where we want to be. If we continue to do that, I like our chances.”
Riley hit a tying home run in the eighth inning and a winning single in the 12th, lifting the surging Braves to a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
The defending World Series champion Braves have won six of seven and improved to 29-8 since June 1, the best record in the majors in that span. They are 1½ games behind the Mets and open a three-game series against them Monday night in Atlanta.
Washington has lost 10 of 11. Juan Soto extended his hitting streak to 13 games — he’s batting .409 during the run — and also has a 20-game on-base string.
Dansby Swanson started the Braves 12th as the automatic runner at second base. After an intentional walk to Matt Olson, Riley lined a single to left off Jordan Weems (0-1).
“It’s hard to win a major league game against anybody,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Riley was the automatic runner in the 10th when William Contreras lined an infield single that second baseman Alcides Escobar bobbled. Escobar recovered in time to throw out Riley at the plate to end the inning.
Riley also had an RBI single in the third.
Collin McHugh (2-1) earned the win after pitching clean innings in the 11th and 12th.
Riley, going deep for the second straight day, hit his 23rd homer to tie it at…