ATLANTA - As the originally scheduled game time passed Thursday night, thunderstorms turned the Braves' home field into Lake Turner.
Water pooled in the outfield, rushed down the dugout steps and gushed through the clubhouse tunnels. The Mets, anxious to keep their roll going, were forced to wait more than two hours.
Catcher Kevin Plawecki documented the deluge with a video clip that made the rounds on social media. Michael Cuddyer helped pass the time by entertaining teammates with magic tricks in the clubhouse.
But when the skies cleared, the Mets proved ready to play, dispatching the Braves, 7-2, with businesslike efficiency.
"To walk out and still realize they've got to take care of business, I'm really proud of them," said manager Terry Collins, who had cautioned against a letdown after the Mets dominated the Nationals in three critical games.
The Mets treated everything about the start of their four-game series against the Braves like a list of house chores, an undesirable but mandatory exercise.
But even as they rested a trio of starters, the Mets extended their winning streak to four and their NL East lead to 71/2 games over the idle Nationals.
Bartolo Colon, the 42-year-old marvel, saw his career-best scoreless-innings streak snapped at 31 when Jace Peterson tripled home a run in the seventh and scored on Andrelton Simmons' single.
But Colon departed with a two-run lead after holding the Braves to two runs and seven hits in 62/3 innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his scoreless streak of 31 innings is the longest for a pitcher age 42 or older since knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm tossed 251/3 straight shutout innings in 1967.
"I'm really proud and surprised at myself," Colon said through a translator. "I didn't think at this stage of my career I could do that kind of [thing]."
Colon fell just short of seizing the Mets' franchise record from R.A. Dickey, who threw 322/3 straight scoreless innings during his Cy Young Award-winning season in 2012.
Nothing seemed to faze the Mets, not even a 2-hour, 20- minute delay. Colon joked that he has been "around too long" to let the weather bother him.
Plawecki, playing in place of Travis d'Arnaud, had three RBIs. So did Juan Uribe, starting in place of David Wright. Uribe, who had three hits and scored a run, had an RBI single in the seventh for a 4-0 lead. His two-run double in the ninth made it 7-2.
Dario Alvarez retired all four batters he faced, including three lefties, as he continues his push to make the playoff roster as a lefty specialist.
The Mets took a 3-0 lead in the fourth against Shelby Miller (5-14), who despite a quality start (three runs in six innings) extended his winless streak to 21 games. Miller left the mound without a single run of support for the 11th time during that stretch, which dates to May 23.
Plawecki hit a two-run double in the fourth and scored when Colon lined an 0-and-2 pitch to center for a single. It was Colon's eighth hit and fourth RBI of the season, both career highs for the lifetime .094 hitter.
The Mets arrived in Atlanta hoping to avoid a crash after the rush of their three-game demolition of the Nationals. The Braves -- 42-42 on July 7, when they trailed first-place Washington by four games and the Mets by a half-game -- have gone 14-42 since then.
Despite the Braves' plunge in the standings, the Mets seemed concerned about another adversary, complacency. But when Collins offered players a later report time -- a way to give them a break -- few took him up on the offer. "It just tells you that there's still energy," he said.
Of late, Colon has personified that energy, turning in perhaps the best work of his season as the Mets navigate the stretch run of their season. "Some people think you're old, you can't do it," Uribe said. "But this guy Bartolo, he can pitch."
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