Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler is greeted at the dugout...

Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler is greeted at the dugout after being relieved in the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta on Monday, June 30, 2014. Credit: AP / John Bazemore

The deluge of errors came in the eighth inning Monday night, when the Mets staged an impromptu protest against the playing of good fundamental baseball.

It began with pitcher Jeurys Familia's rushed throw to second base that should have started a double play. It continued when Juan Lagares failed to pick up a ball off the ground in centerfield. It ended with fill-in third baseman Eric Campbell watching a chopper pop out of the heel of his glove.

The unraveling resulted in a bitter 5-3 loss to the Braves, who rallied from a two-run deficit in the eighth with the help of the three errors by the Mets.

"We catch the ball pretty good," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "That's probably the most frustrating part because we're out of the inning if we turn the double-play ball."

Had Familia set his feet and made a strong throw to second, the Mets would have given themselves a chance to win the opener of this critical series against the NL East-leading Braves. Instead, they fell to nine games under .500, matching their lowest point of the season. They trail the Braves by eight games.

The evening began with promise as the Mets wasted little time building a lead. Curtis Granderson hit his second leadoff homer of the season to make it 1-0.

In the second, Travis d'Arnaud doubled to the gap in left-center to drive in Chris Young from first. In the third, Young lifted a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to make it 3-0.

Even without his best stuff, Zack Wheeler pushed through 6 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits and walked five but allowed only one run. He left with the Mets leading by two runs.

But everything unraveled in the eighth. Familia, who had not allowed a run since June 10, quickly allowed consecutive hits to Justin Upton and Jason Heyward. Then he compounded his problems with a rushed throw to second on Chris Johnson's comebacker.

"I tried to be too quick throwing to the base," Familia said. "Before I got to the ball, I tried to throw it. That was my fault."

With the bases loaded, Tommy La Stella lined a single to centerfield, where Lagares overran the ball before fumbling it. Had he fielded it cleanly, the Braves would have scored only one more run. But the miscue allowed Heyward to score the tying run after he already had stopped at third base.

The go-ahead run came three batters later. After a walk to Ryan Doumit and a strikeout by B.J. Upton, Familia got a high chopper from Andrelton Simmons. But Campbell misread the bounce, charging in when he should have stayed put. Caught on his heels, he recovered in time to get a glove on the ball, but he couldn't maintain possession. His rushed throw wasn't close and Johnson scored the go-ahead run. "Just a high chopper," he said. "I misjudged it."

Dana Eveland forced in another run with a bases-loaded walk to Freddie Freeman. With that, the Mets added the cherry on top of their worst inning of the season, and their sixth loss in their last seven games.

"It's tough," Campbell said. "It seems like those things happen when teams are struggling. That's what we're doing right now."