NEW YORK – Derrek Lee delivered the huge hit the Braves desperately needed from him, launching a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning that sent Atlanta over the New York Mets 6-3 Sunday for a three-game sweep.
Lee's full-count, two-out shot into the second deck in left field energized the Braves going into their biggest series of the season.
Leading the wild-card race and trying to catch the Phillies in the NL East, Atlanta opens a three-game set in Philadelphia on Monday night. Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor and Tommy Hanson will start for the Braves against Phils aces Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt.
The Mets gave retiring Atlanta manager Bobby Cox a magnum bottle of wine from Tom Seaver's vineyard as a farewell gift, then Lee presented him with a key victory.
Lee greeted reliever Manny Acosta with his 11th career slam, and it was an altogether too familiar sight for the Mets. New York has allowed a major league-leading 12 slams this season, yet is the only team in the big leagues that hasn't hit one.
The Braves got Lee in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 18 and the All-Star slugger hadn't produced the way his new team hoped. He'd hit only one home run for Atlanta before his no-doubt drive made it 6-2.
Derek Lowe (14-12) limited the Mets to David Wright's two-run homer over six innings, and the Braves' bullpen finished out the victory. Atlanta has won four straight road games after struggling away from Turner Field all year.
Rookie Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his first big league save. Closer Billy Wagner earned saves in the first two games of the series.
Alex Gonzalez contributed a pair of two-out RBI singles for the Braves.
It was 2-all when Melky Cabrera pinch-hit for Lowe and blooped a leadoff single in the seventh against R.A. Dickey (11-7). Omar Infante singled and Jason Heyward, after showing bunt against lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano, swung away and hit a little grounder that moved up the runners just the same.
An intentional walk to Martin Prado loaded the bases, Brian McCann hit a soft liner for the second out and Mets manager Jerry Manuel summoned Acosta. The righty's first three pitches were balls and Lee fouled off a 3-2 fastball before hitting his 18th home run overall.
Coming off a career-high 12 strikeouts against Washington in his last outing, Lowe looked more like his sinkerballing self. He retired eight straight batters on grounders in the early innings, and didn't fan anyone until getting rookie Lucas Duda to open the fifth.
Dickey didn't exactly fool anyone, even with his knuckleball. He didn't have a strikeout and never retired more than three hitters in a row.
Wright hit his team-leading 24th home run in the first, ending a 2½-week drought without an extra-base hit for the Mets' cleanup man. He sliced a high drive and Heyward stuck out his left hand as he drifted back, ready to brace himself at the right-field wall, but the ball carried over.
Gonzalez tied it in the sixth with a grounder off the glove of diving shortstop Jose Reyes, and clapped his hands twice as he ran to first.
Notes: Mets C Henry Blanco, who played for Cox in Atlanta, presented his former manager with the bottle of wine before the game. The Mets will ship a case to Cox's home. ... Wright tied Mike Piazza for second on the Mets' career list with 655 RBIs. Darryl Strawberry leads with 733. ... Heyward has reached base safely in 24 straight games. ... Kimbrel struck out three. He's fanned 29 in 14 1-3 innings this year.