ATLANTA — In the 24 hours before their first-ever game at SunTrust Field, the Mets absorbed a pair of body blows that rocked an entire franchise.
The first punch was a haymaker delivered by the Nationals in the form of a 23-5 drubbing Sunday. The knockout came when Noah Syndergaard landed on the disabled list Monday with a partially torn lat muscle in his right side after exiting in the second inning Sunday.
But on Monday night, the Mets showed the capacity to get off the canvas, defeating the Braves, 7-5, for their third victory in four games.
“Yesterday was an ugly, ugly day,” Terry Collins said. “The injury was bigger than the score of the game for me. But it just goes to show you it’s only one game and you’ve got to move on. They bounced back today and they got some big hits.”
Michael Conforto hit his third leadoff homer of the season and ripped a two-run single as part of a five-run fourth inning. He finished with three RBIs and upped his average to .333, a well-timed surge for an offense that must cope with the absence of Yoenis Cespedes.
Jose Reyes hit his third homer in his last five games, a solo shot in the eighth inning that came after he was robbed of two hits earlier in the game. It gave the Mets a critical insurance run and served as the latest sign that he might be emerging from his horrendous slump.
“We have to continue to play with what we have here,” said Reyes, who is hitting .370 in his last seven games after his average tumbled to .095. “We still have unbelievable talent here.”
That talent made good on its debut at SunTrust Park, the replacement for Turner Field, a house of horrors in which the Mets posted a .387 winning percentage.
Though he won for the first time this year, Robert Gsellman saw his ERA rise to 6.75 after he nearly squandered a five-run lead. He departed in the sixth with two on, nobody out and the Mets leading 6-3. The two runners he left eventually scored and he was charged with five runs in five innings-plus. But his velocity looked slightly improved, and when he did get outs, they were on the ground, an encouraging sign for a pitcher who leans on his sinker. “It’s coming along,” he said. “It’s still a work in progress.”
In five starts this season, he has completed six innings once. But five relievers pitched four scoreless innings and protected the lead, with Jeurys Familia nailing down his second save.
The bounce-back came against the Braves’ Julio Teheran, who entered the game 4-0 with an 0.91 ERA in his last seven starts against the Mets. But even their great tormentor couldn’t keep it up forever. In a five-run fourth inning, Neil Walker and T.J. Rivera delivered run-scoring hits, Reyes grounded out to knock in another run and Conforto ripped a two-run single to right to give the Mets a 6-1 lead.
“Yesterday was frustrating,” said Conforto, who has flourished as the leadoff man, even though it’s not a natural fit. “But we put it in the past. I think this group can move on from that and kind of rebound a little bit.”