ATLANTA -- In a third inning jam-packed with calamities for the Mets, Lucas Duda lost a ball in leftfield, John Buck failed to stop one from reaching the backstop and David Wright let another glance off his glove at third base.
By the end of the brutal frame at Turner Field Sunday, the Braves had scored five runs and sent 11 men to the plate, setting the tone in a 9-4 rout of the Mets.
Coming off perhaps their best win of the season, a comeback on Friday against the powerful bullpen of the Braves (18-12), the Mets (12-16) paid for a sloppy effort against the NL East leaders.
"It seems like weather breaks the momentum again," said Wright, who homered in his third straight game. "But that's life, that's baseball. We've got to find a way to regain that momentum."
Even manager Terry Collins wondered if the Mets paid the price after Saturday's game was rained out, the team's fourth postponement of the season. He pinned a poor performance by lefthander Jonathon Niese on a lack of sharpness from pitching on extra rest.
Whatever the reason, the Mets wrapped up their abbreviated road trip at 2-3. They will begin a three-game interleague series against the White Sox Tuesday at Citi Field.
For all their issues, the Mets mounted a rally in the eighth inning. Duda singled home a run and Justin Turner, pinch hitting for struggling first baseman Ike Davis, worked a bases-loaded walk to give Marlon Byrd a chance to tie it with one swing. But Byrd wound up tossing his bat and slamming his helmet into the ground after striking out, swinging over the top of a sinker from Eric O'Flaherty that sunk the Mets. "We kept battling," Collins said. "We made it a game in the eighth, which I was happy for."
But the late rally served only as a consolation prize for the Mets.
In his worst outing of the season, Niese tied a career high with six walks and allowed seven runs and seven hits in four innings. Of course, he didn't get help from his defense.
The unraveling began in the third with one out, one run in and runners on first and second. The Braves' Freddie Freeman lifted a long fly to leftfield, and Duda immediately misjudged its distance. He gave chase toward the wall -- getting turned around in the process -- and the effort proved futile. Freeman's ball fell for a two-run double.
"The backdrop is kind of white," Duda said. "It's kind of tough to get a read on the ball . . . Just got beat."
Two batters later, one of Niese's two wild pitches bounced through the legs of Buck, allowing Freeman to score.
After a walk, B.J. Upton hit a hard grounder down the third-base line that Wright attempted to backhand. The ball bounced free for an infield single, allowing Upton to extend the inning for Reed Johnson, whose single to center gave the Braves a 5-0 lead.
"You've just got to forget about it," said Niese, who yielded to reliever Jeurys Familia with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth inning.
Notes & quotes: Righthander Matt Harvey threw a light bullpen session as a tuneup for Tuesday's start against the White Sox. Because of Saturday's rainout and Monday's scheduled off day, Harvey will pitch on seven days' rest . . . The Mets will make up their rainout as part of a doubleheader during their next trip to Atlanta from June 17-20.
Righthander Matt Harvey was scheduled to throw a light bullpen session as a tuneup for his start on Tuesday against the White Sox. Because of Saturday's rainout and Monday's scheduled off day, Harvey will pitch on seven days' rest . . . Though an exact date has yet to be set, the Mets will make up their rained-out game as part of a doubleheader during their next trip to Atlanta, June 17-20.
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