NEW YORK (AP) — Mets manager Terry Collins was looking forward Saturday afternoon to seven games against NL East-leading Washington before the All-Star break.
By the time the first series against the Nationals starts on June 27, the Mets may have a double-digit deficit.
New York lost to the last-place Atlanta Braves for the second straight night, wasting a three-run lead built behind Steven Matz. Curtis Granderson’s lazy throw and Addison Reed’s wild pitch combined to send Ender Inciarte across the plate with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Atlanta’s 4-3 victory.
“It was definitely a tough loss,” said Wilmer Flores, who was thrown out at the plate in the ninth when he tried to score from first on James Loney’s double.
With the score 3-all, Inciarte sliced an opposite-field double to left against Addison Reed (1-1) leading off the eighth, sliding into second ahead of Michael Conforto’s throw. Freddie Freeman was intentionally walked, and Jeff Francoeur hit a 267-foot liner to Granderson in right. Granderson looked back Freeman and looped a throw to second, prompting Inciarte to take off for third.
“I could possibly have made a harder throw. Might have changed the situation,” Granderson said.
Nick Markakis struck out and, with Tyler Flowers at the plate, Reed bounced a 1-0 slider that catcher Rene Rivera blocked. Reed bounced another slider on the next pitch that went between Rivera’s legs to the back of the dirt circling the plate. Rivera retrieved the ball and lunged toward the plate, and the ball came loose as Inciarte slid across.
“You want to block every ball, but it’s one of those days,” Rivera said.
Flores reached leading off the New York ninth when shortstop Erick Aybar allowed his grounder to bounce off an arm for an error. Loney doubled on two hops to the wall in left-center, and Inciarte picked up the ball on the warning track and threw to Aybar, who made a one-hop throw to the plate to get Flores. Ty Kelly flied out to deep center, Loney advanced on a wild pitch, and Alejandro De Aza was hit by a pitch. Granderson ended the game by taking a called third strike.
“We can’t get him thrown out in that situation,” Collins said. “This is a tough one, especially with what’s going on now, with a bunch of guys down. You can’t lose these kind of games.”
Dario Alvarez (1-0), claimed off waivers from the Mets last month, got two outs for his second big league win. Jim Johnson finished for his first save this year.
New York, struggling at the plate following injuries to David Wright, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud, began the night a season-high six games behind Washington.
“We’ve got them seven times here in the next two weeks, so we’ll be ready for it,” Collins said before the game. “It seems like when we play the Nationals or play these good teams, for some reason there’s just more energy. So, we’ve got to be ready.”
In a matchup of rookie starters, Matz stretched his winless streak to four outings following a seven-start winning streak, allowing two runs and four hits in six innings before leaving with elbow tightness.
Yoenis Cespedes homered on a curveball in the third inning and Flores on a fastball in the fourth, both clearing the original Great Wall of Flushing in left. Loney followed with his first triple since 2011 and scored on Rivera’s sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead.
Atlanta closed to 3-2 against Matz on Chase d’Arnaud’s two-out RBI single in the fifth and Francoeur’s third home run in the sixth. Flowers homered leading off the seventh on Jim Henderson’s first pitch. After he came out, Henderson told the Mets he felt shoulder impingement.
Bartolo Colon may stay in the Mets’ rotation even when Zack Wheeler is ready to return from Tommy John surgery. Wheeler is expected back in July, but the 43-year-old Colon is 6-3 with a 3.01 ERA.
“When Zack Wheeler is ready to be a major league pitcher again, there’ll be a pretty hefty discussion of what’s going to be best for us,” Collins said, adding a six-man rotation is possible during a stretch when there are few off days.
After losing their season opener to Staten Island 3-2 in 20 innings on Friday, the Mets’ Class A Brooklyn Cyclones were no-hit by the Yankees in a 2-1, 10-inning defeat Saturday.
Mets: C Travis d’Arnaud, who hasn’t played for the Mets since April 25 because of a strained right rotator cuff, is likely to be activated before Tuesday’s game against Kansas City.
RHP Jacob deGrom (3-3) is to start Sunday’s series finale for the Mets and RHP Julio Teheran (2-7) goes for the Braves.
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