Mets nearly no-hit in loss to Braves
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A strange battle cry might be in order for that baseball team that makes its home in Queens: Mets Go Away.
Though they play pretty well on the road, the Mets can't seem to function at Citi Field.
On Friday night, coming off an uplifting 6-3 road trip, the Mets could conjure only one hit -- which didn't come until David Wright singled off reliever Luis Avilan with two outs in the eighth -- in absorbing a 6-0 beating by the Atlanta Braves.
Righthander Aaron Harang, whose last four 2013 appearances were with the Mets, shut down the Mets through seven innings: no hits, five strikeouts. Nothing . . . beyond six walks.
It was cold comfort to the Mets that the 35-year-old Harang (3-1, 0.70) has been difficult for the entire league since being released by Cleveland late in spring training. In his Atlanta debut, he took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against Milwaukee.
"I don't think anybody cares too much about the no-hit side of it," Wright said. "It was more important to get a couple of guys on base and actually try to win the game.
"You could just tell how confident [Harang] was, throwing any pitch on any count. Two-seamers, cutters, sliders, curveballs, changeups. I mean, you name it, he was throwing it. He finds a hitter's weakness and really attacks it."
The loss left the Mets 2-5 in their not-so-friendly confines this season. That, after going 33-48 at Citi Field last season (compared with 41-40 on the road) and coming on the heels of their fairly triumphant just-completed trip.
"Bottle it?" manager Terry Collins asked about the Mets' efficiency as a visiting team. "You know, we made a bunch of changes in the clubhouse, the way things were done, tried to get it more similar to the way we do things on the road."
He wouldn't detail those changes, saying only, "Hopefully, we can just start executing like we do on the road."
It didn't happen Friday night. With Atlanta clinging to a 1-0 lead during Harang's seven innings, the Mets had baserunners in the second, third, sixth and seventh.
Losing pitcher Jonathon Niese (0-2, 2.84) allowed a mere four hits and a run -- when Chris Johnson doubled home Justin Upton in the second -- in six innings.
"I thought I didn't have my best stuff," Niese said, "but I battled through it. I was able to locate [pitches] from the fourth inning on and get outs when I really needed them."
A bigger need was offense.
Niese walked in the third and was sacrificed to second by Eric Young Jr. but was stranded there on Daniel Murphy's groundout. Young and Wright walked in the sixth but Curtis Granderson struck out. Travis d'Arnaud and Ruben Tejada walked in the seventh, both with two outs, before pinch hitter Andrew Brown struck out.
Once Niese left the scene, the Braves scored four times against Gonzalez Germen in a wild eighth, which included Freddie Freeman's two-run homer, a pair of doubles and a throwing error by d'Arnaud that allowed Dan Uggla, who had doubled, to score. Atlanta added another run against Jeurys Familia in the ninth.
Only nine more home games until the Mets leave town again.