NEW YORK (AP) - All winter long, the New York Mets heard critics lampooning them, certain the club would hit a wall from the get-go.
On Saturday, these plucky Mets got busy hitting balls over the wall.
Lucas Duda homered twice and became the first player to take advantage of the pulled-in fences at Citi Field, David Wright also connected and the Mets beat Atlanta Braves 4-2.
R.A. Dickey and a bolstered bullpen stayed in command and the Mets flashed some leather, too, in improving to 2-0 for the first time since 2009.
``We realize we have a long way to go, but this locker room is filled with guys who believe they belong here,' Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Looks good to Dickey, so far.
``It was a great community win - a lot of people chipping in,' he said. ``It's been a good couple of days. Hopefully, we can maintain this momentum.'
Wright kept hitting with an opposite-field homer to right-center in the first inning and two singles. Coming off a down year and injury-interrupted spring training, the All-Star had two hits and drove in the only run in Thursday's opener against Atlanta.
As for those shortened fences, they're totally fine by Wright.
``I don't need it - Duda does,' he kidded.
``It helped us out today. Nice to see guys have good at bats and get rewarded for it,' he said.
Martin Prado hit a two-run homer for Atlanta. His shot in the fifth ended the Braves' longest season-opening shutout streak since 1980 - this is their first 0-2 start in four years.
``We're not panicking,' Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said. ``The first two games, it hasn't happened.'
With hot dog wrappers blowing around the field, Duda launched a drive to right-center field in the fourth. The ball flew over the new fence, yet several feet in front of where the old wall still stands.
``It plays fair now,' Duda said.
Duda hit another solo shot run in the seventh off Chad Durbin, a drive to right that would've been a home run in any year. It was Duda's first multihomer game in the majors.
Josh Thole lined a go-ahead single in the fifth off well-traveled Livan Hernandez, making his first regular-season relief appearance since his major league debut in 1996.
Dickey (1-0) allowed five hits and four walks in six innings. He had trouble getting a good grip for his signature knuckler, a common problem on cooler, windy days.
``It might have been a knuckleball that didn't knuckle,' he said.
Dickey drew attention this spring with his revealing biography, a book in which he wrote about being sexually abused as a boy. He returned the focus to the field with his pitching, plus an alert play at the plate.
Michael Bourn led off the game with a double and later tried to score from third when a pitch skittered away from Thole. But the catcher pounced on it and threw a fastball to Dickey, who tagged out the three-time NL stolen base champ.
``When we made that play, I knew it was going to be a good one today,' Thole said.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Bourn hesitated, but didn't blame the speedster.
``You can't fault him on that. The two guys made a play,' Gonzalez said.
Frank Francisco, the fourth Mets pitcher, earned his second save. Wright helped with a nifty catch in foul ground down the third-base line, then Francisco struck out pinch-hitter Matt Diaz with two runners on to end it.
Jair Jurrjens (0-1) gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings. He made the All-Star game last year, but won just one of his final seven starts and didn't pitch in September because of an injured right knee.
NOTES: The Mets are 22-0 when hitting three or more homers at Citi Field. ... Braves 3B Chipper Jones (left knee) felt fine after an off-day workout Friday. Gonzalez said Jones might play Tuesday in Houston when he's eligible to come off the disabled list. Gonzalez said Jones ``definitely' would be ready for Atlanta's home opener Friday vs. Milwaukee. ... Mets CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis struck out on three pitches in his first major league at-bat. He beat out an infield single his next time up and later singled again. He was promoted from Triple-A after OF Andres Torres re-injured his left calf in the opener. Collins said Nieuwenhuis and Scott Hairston would each see time in center.
The Associated Press News Service
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