ATLANTA - When the Mets arrived here a few days ago, they had little reason to think the good times would come to an end.
Matt Harvey gave the Mets a lift with his successful return from Tommy John surgery, pitching them to a series victory against their eternal tormentors, the Nationals.
In the Braves, they faced a team in transition, with a roster filled with remnants and retreads. But after Saturday night's 5-3 loss to Atlanta, the Mets must get up from a pair of gut punches.
Not only must they win Sunday to avoid a sweep, they must do so after the news of Jenrry Mejia's failed drug test sent shock waves through the clubhouse.
"There was a lot of shocked faces," said manager Terry Collins, who told his team about Mejia's 80-game suspension. "Like most of them said, we've got to pick it up and move on."
Did the news impact the Mets on the field? Maybe, maybe not. But there was no quibbling about how bad the Mets (2-3) looked at the plate, as they scratched out only three hits.
The Braves (5-0) threw cold water all over Dillon Gee's season debut, chasing the righthander by pounding him for four runs in the fifth.
Down 5-0, the Mets rallied for three runs in the seventh, taking advantage of an error by Alberto Callaspo that extended the inning. But they missed a chance to turn the tide.
With two runs in, the bases loaded and nobody out, Wilmer Flores sucked the air out of the rally by hitting into a 6-4-3 double play, with a run scoring. Ruben Tejada then grounded out to end the inning.
After torching the Grapefruit League, the Mets have cooled off at the plate, with five of the team's regulars hitting .200 or worse. "We knew we were swinging good in spring training, but we knew it was spring training," Collins said. "It's just a different game."
Through the season's first four games, Mets starting pitchers combined for a 1.57 ERA, trailing only the Tigers for the best mark in the big leagues. But Gee got tagged for five runs and eight hits and was finished after five innings.
For the second straight night, the Mets found themselves playing catch-up. Freddie Freeman -- of course -- delivered the first big blow with a solo shot in the second. And behind a hail of liners that barely evaded the reach of first baseman Lucas Duda, the Braves pushed their lead to 5-0 in the fifth.
Christian Bethancourt and Andrelton Simmons lined back-to-back RBI doubles past a diving Duda and former Met Eric Young Jr. ripped an RBI triple just over Duda's mitt, giving the Braves four extra-base hits in the inning. With two outs, Nick Markakis added an RBI single.
"They peppered that rightfield line pretty good," said Gee, who was lifted for a pinch hitter when his turn to bat came up in the sixth.
In picking up the win, Braves righthander Julio Teheran (2-0) allowed one earned run and two hits in six innings. His bullpen followed up with zeros, forcing the Mets into an unenviable position.
With Bartolo Colon on the mound Sunday, the Mets need a victory to avoid a sweep and salvage a split of their first road trip of the season.
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