The Mets hardly looked like a team that had pulled itself off the mat and back into playoff contention during Saturday’s ugly 9-5 loss to Atlanta at Citi Field.
From a third straight subpar outing by Zack Wheeler, to poor baserunning, to bad defense, many of the Mets’ weaknesses were on display in a second straight defeat to Atlanta, the team that has a knack for derailing their plans.
And to finish it off, Edwin Diaz left the game in the ninth with an apparent injury, adding to their bullpen issues.
After Pete Alonso tied the franchise home run record with a three-run shot — his 41st — in the fifth inning for a one-run Mets lead, Wheeler gave up an unearned run in the sixth, thanks to a two-base error by third baseman Todd Frazier to allow the Braves to knot the game at 5-5.
Things only got worse in the eighth, when Atlanta went ahead for good.
Wheeler allowed five runs — four earned — in six innings and Mickey Callaway turned to Luis Avilan from his taxed bullpen that was forced to pitch seven innings in Friday’s 14-inning defeat.
Avilan threw a scoreless seventh and Brad Brach took over in the eighth. Brach retired the first two batters he faced before Rafael Ortega lined a double that just eluded a leaping Joe Panik.
Pinch-hitter Billy Hamilton then singled to extend the inning before Ronald Acuna, Jr. singled to left, scoring Ortega and giving the Braves a 6-5 lead.
But J.D. Davis held on to the ball too long in left and the speedy Hamilton came around to also score on the play, putting Atlanta up by two runs.
The Mets blew a chance to go up in the bottom of the seventh, when the game was still tied.
Jeff McNeil, in his first game off the IL, delivered a pinch-hit double to open the inning. Amed Rosario, in the leadoff spot, tried to bunt McNeil to third, but didn’t get it down.
Then McNeil was thrown out at third on Rosario’s grounder to short. Rosario, trying to steal second, was then thrown out by ex-Yankee Francisco Cervelli, in his debut with Atlanta, and the Mets failed to score.
There were other concerns, as well, as Diaz’s nightmare season continued when he gave up a homer to Freddie Freeman, and two batters later left the game after being seen on the mound by the trainer.
Wheeler, who said he intended to make some adjustments after a pair of bad outings, didn’t show much improvement.
The right-hander has followed up the two gems he tossed in his first games after the trade deadline passed and he stayed in Queens with three clunkers.
His struggles against the Braves continued in the second inning.
After back-to-back walks to Matt Joyce and former Met Adeiny Hechavarria to open the inning, Cervelli ripped a two-run double to left.
Cervelli, who was signed Saturday following his release by the Pirates, was tagged out after a rundown.
Michael Conforto led off the bottom of the inning with a single to right and moved to second on a wild pitch, but was stranded.
Homers by Ozzie Albies and Josh Donaldson in the third gave Atlanta a 4-0 lead.
The Mets got a run back in the third when Juan Lagares doubled to lead off and came around to score.
Lagares doubled and scored again in the fifth to make it 4-2.
They went ahead later in the inning with two on and two out for Alonso, who smacked a 451-foot three-run homer to center to give the Mets their first lead of the night, 5-4.
Alonso’s homer tied the franchise mark, shared by Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley.
But it didn’t last, as the Mets lost for the fourth time in five games to Atlanta at Citi Field this season — and the first-place Braves won their seventh consecutive game.
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