Mets sweep Braves for final regular season series

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NEW YORK (AP) – Mike Soroka recovered from a shaky start in his playoff tuneup, but the banged-up Atlanta Braves limped into October with a 7-6 loss to the New York Mets in 11 innings Sunday when Dominic Smith hit a game-ending, three-run homer on his first competitive swing in more than two months.

Nine days after clinching their second consecutive NL East title, the Braves finally learned their postseason opponent when St. Louis won the NL Central with a 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Atlanta will open a best-of-five Division Series at home against the Cardinals on Thursday, with veteran left-hander Dallas Keuchel expected to start for the Braves.

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Soroka, an All-Star this year, is lined up for Game 3 on the road – where the 22-year-old rookie is 7-1 with a 1.35 ERA that is by far the lowest in the majors.

Pitching for the first time in 10 days, Soroka was tagged for three runs and four hits in the first inning of the regular-season finale. J.D. Davis socked a two-run homer off the right-hander, who settled down after that and lasted 85 pitches. He gave up three runs and seven hits over five innings, with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Smith was reinstated from the injured list Thursday after being sidelined since July 27 with a stress reaction in his left foot. He hadn’t gotten into a game until he replaced Pete Alonso at first base in the top of the 11th, mainly so the rookie home run king could walk off the field to one last ovation from Mets fans.

But lo and behold, New York put two runners aboard in the bottom half and Smith, batting in Alonso’s spot with two outs, drove a 1-0 pitch from Grant Dayton (0-1) over the right-center fence to give the Mets a three-game sweep and a thrilling finish to their second-half surge that fell short of a playoff berth.

An excited Smith tossed his helmet between third base and home plate, then was swarmed and doused by jubilant teammates as his uniform top was ripped off by Alonso in a wild scene.

Chris Mazza (1-1) got two outs for his first major league win, and the Mets took their jerseys off and gave them to fans after one more comeback win.

New York went 46-26 in the second half and finished third in the NL East at 86-76 – a nine-game improvement over last year. On deck in the coming days in all likelihood, a decision about the future of manager Mickey Callaway, who could be fired after two seasons at the helm without a trip to the postseason.

Alonso received a series of standing ovations from Citi Field fans who also chanted his name, one night after hitting his 53rd home run to break the rookie record set by Yankees star Aaron Judge in 2017.

Alonso doffed his helmet and later tipped his cap to the crowd of 31,523 when he was replaced by Smith. Alonso went 1 for 5 with a single and became the only rookie since 1900 – and first Mets player overall – to win the outright major league home run crown.

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Angela joined the News 12 team in November of 2017 as the weekend sports anchor and reporter. Angela is a proud member of an Army family, which means she has hometowns all over the Eastern Seaboard. Most recently, she calls Peachtree City, Georgia, home, where she graduated from Trinity Christian School and spent her free time driving her purple golf cart. She then headed to Milledgeville, Georgia, to attend Georgia College and State University. A proud Bobcat, Angela graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication and represented her December 2016 class as one of three valedictorians. Angela comes to the Scenic City from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she worked at the NBC affiliate, WMBF News. Before the big move, she worked as Georgia College's Sports Information Assistant, which let her get paid to be the Bobcats' biggest fan. It all started in Savannah, Georgia, though, where she interned for SAV's number one station, WTOC. When she's not working, you can find Angela watching the New York Giants, Rangers or basically any other game that's on. She also loves traveling, hiking and exploring new places, all with her camera in hand. If you have any story ideas, big or small, feel free to reach out to her on Facebook and Twitter, or email her at amoryan@wdef.com."