Mets sunk by late loss to Braves as NL East lead shrinks

Mets sunk by late loss to Braves as NL East lead shrinks

ATLANTA — This wasn’t the time for the Mets to end their impressive streak of winning or drawing streaks against division opponents, but maybe they were just lucky they didn’t get swept.

Either way, the Braves seem determined to stay put. Missing a chance for an acceptable series split Thursday night, the Mets watched two grounders swing into the sequence that buried them in a 3-2 loss at Truist Park.

After winning or drawing their first 16 series against the NL East this season, the Mets left town with three losses in four games against the defending World Series champions. The Mets lead the Braves with 3 ½ games in NL East. The teams have three more games against each other beginning September 30 in Atlanta.

Jacob deGrom plays Thursday during the Mets loss to the Braves.Jacob deGrom plays Thursday during the Mets loss to the Braves. USA TODAY sports

Dansby Swanson, left, celebrates with Matt Olson after scoring in the third inning.Dansby Swanson, left, celebrates with Matt Olson after scoring in the third inning. AP

“We won four [of five] when we got back to us and they won three while we were here,” said Brandon Nimmo. “I’m not that disappointed. I’m just more disappointed because I feel like there were some things we could have done a little bit better in this game and maybe we’ll pull away from that with this one, but that’s baseball. When good baseball happens, it’s usually one or two things.”

Seth Lugo replaced Jacob deGrom with two outs in the seventh inning and allowed Michael Harris II a groundball double that Vaughn Grissom hit from first base with the go-ahead. Grissom ran onto the field and never stopped, smashing first baseman Darin Ruf’s relay shot to the plate after Nimmo, playing deep in midfield, retrieved the grounder just to the right of second base.

“That ball was hit in the right place,” said Nimmo. “Kudos to [Harris] for bringing it into play. The only thing I might have wished for was to have it ripped to homeplate and thrown.

DeGrom retired 12 straight before allowing an infield single from rookie third baseman Brett Baty’s glove to the last hitter he faced, Grissom in seventh. The Mets ace pitched season highs with 6 ²/₃ innings and 95 pitches. Overall, he allowed three earned runs on five hits with nine strikeouts and increased his ERA to 2.31.

The Braves connected with three solid hits against deGrom in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead. Dansby Swanson stroked an RBI double with two outs before Austin Riley’s subsequent single added another run. Robbie Grossman’s single started the inning.

“It really comes down to two pitches,” deGrom said. “The one on Dansby, just a bad slider down the middle and then the one on Riley. Those were two mistakes I wish I’d made, but they’ve capitalized on them and it’s frustrating.”

In the ninth lap, Francisco Lindor took the lead and then slipped into second place in an attempted headfirst steal when Pete Alonso hit a pop-up in right field. Lindor jumped to his feet and was the first to retreat as the ball fell; he was kicked out in the second force play.

Dansby Swanson connects with an RBI double in the third inning.Dansby Swanson connects with an RBI double in the third inning. AP

“[Lindor] did the right thing,” said manager Buck Showalter. “Pete got a pitch that he thought he could drive and when he hits a home run [Lindor] Running, it’s just one of those things. You don’t want to deprive him of this option. Just one of those games, lucky for them.”

Returning from the concussion list, Max Fried allowed two earned runs on four hits with six strikeouts over seven innings. The left-hander last served on Aug. 6 when he conceded four runs (two unearned) at Citi Field. After that start, he was diagnosed with a concussion, the result of hitting his head on the ground while trying to throw home.

Mark Canha hit a two-run homer in the fifth that tied it 2-2. The blast was Canha’s eighth of the season and the first to allow Fried in his last 11 starts spanning 69¹/₃ innings. Jeff McNeil singled lead out of the inning before Canha cleared the left fence.

“We wanted to come in here and win all four games,” deGrom said. “But once they won a pair, the goal was the split and we couldn’t achieve it. Disappointed but we have to go play [Friday].”