The New York Mets overcome a 4-5 deficit with five runs in the eighth inning en route to an opening game victory over the Atlanta Braves. With Phil Niekro on the mound, a passed ball by catcher Bob Didier in the second, and errors by first baseman Orlando Cepeda and center fielder Tony Gonzalez in the eighth inning pave the way for five unearned runs. Otherwise neither starter is particularly sharp Saturday afternoon at Atlanta. Tom Seaver yields five earned runs on eight hits and three walks with two strikeouts through seven innings. He surrenders home runs to Tony Gonzalez in the fifth and to Hank Aaron in the seventh. Wayne Garrett doubles leading off the eighth inning, and Cleon Jones promptly drives him home with a hit to center. Art Shamsky then follows with a hit to left. After which the Braves defense betrays Phil Niekro. Tom Seaver is the beneficiary. Ron Taylor throws two scoreless innings in relief of Seaver with two strikeouts to earn the save. Bud Harrelson goes 1 for 3 with a triple and two runs batted in. J.C. Martin also drives home two runs. Ed Kranepool and Cleon Jones drive in one run apiece.