Mets stay perfect

Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit his first major league homer for the Mets, who are 4-0 for the first time since 2007. after a surprising sweep of Atlanta, new York rallied from a three-run deficit before a crowd of 23,970. Several fans filed out chanting “Undefeated! Undefeated!”

“Everybody is excited. we know that it’s a long year, but we want to show our fans that maybe we are better than everyone expects us to be,” manager Terry Collins said. “It’s never about the effort with these guys.”

Coming off three straight losing seasons since Citi Field opened, the Mets were projected by most to finish last in the NL East this year. But they did upgrade the bullpen last winter and they received another excellent effort Monday from a retooled unit that ranked 28th in the majors in 2011 with a 4.33 ERA.

Miguel Batista got out of trouble in the sixth, Ramon Ramirez escaped a seventh-inning jam with a doubleplay ball and Jon Rauch (1-0) worked two hitless innings for his first win with new York. Mets relievers are 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA in 13 1-3 innings.

Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter drew a leadoff walk from Rodriguez (0-1) in the ninth and Ruben Tejada sacrificed with two strikes. Rodriguez looked at second, then threw low to first and the ball got by second baseman Danny Espinosa.

“I’m strong, so sometimes I throw sidearm and the ball moves,” Rodriguez said.

New third-base coach Tim Teufel initially waved Baxter all the way around, but he threw up a late stop sign and Baxter slipped to the turf as he tried to slam on the brakes halfway down the line. He got back to his feet and scrambled back to third, barely beating Espinosa’s perfect throw across the diamond.

Espinosa was shaken up after catching an elbow in the head from Tejada as he ran through the bag, but the Washington second baseman stayed in the game.

With first base open and David Wright on deck, the Nationals went after Murphy, who made a diving play at second base to end the top of the ninth. He fisted a looping single to right over a drawn-in infield that dropped in front of Jayson Werth.

In other games:

* At Denver, Barry Zito threw a four-hitter for his first shutout in 9 years and Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run homer to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 7-0 win over the Colorado Rockies.

* At Cincinnati, Matt Holliday, David Freese and Yadier Molina homered during the St. Louis Cardinals’ big first inning, and Jake Westbrook found his control after a rough start, beating the Reds, 7-1. the defending World Series champions improved to 4-1.

* At Chicago, Aramis Ramirez drove in two runs in his return to Wrigley Field, Ryan Braun got booed relentlessly and the Milwaukee Brewers hung on to beat the Cubs, 7-5.

* At Houston, Travis Buck drove in two runs, Justin Maxwell homered in his Houston debut and the Astros rebounded from an early deficit thanks to sloppy defensive play by Atlanta (0-4) in an 8-3 win.

Mets stay perfect


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