Mets deal blow to Braves' fading playoff hopes
ATLANTA (AP) Even though the New York Mets are out of the playoff picture, Zack Wheeler believes his team is eager to finish strong.
''We aren't done playing,'' Wheeler said. ''Obviously, we can't get first anymore, but we're going for the second spot.''
Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer, Wheeler pitched six scoreless innings, and the Mets beat the struggling Atlanta Braves 5-0 on Friday night but were eliminated from playoff contention.
Atlanta, which dropped seven games behind Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card race, can be eliminated with any combination of three Pirates wins or Braves losses.
The Mets were knocked out when Pittsburgh beat Milwaukee earlier Friday, but they want to compete well enough over the last eight games to pass Miami for third place and Atlanta for second in NL East.
''We've just got to play the game right,'' New York manager Terry Collins said. ''I still believe people come to the ballpark to see the game played right. Guys at this level can do things that are special. I want to see us finish up like that.''
The Braves, losers of six of seven, dropped to 4-12 this month. They won the NL East last year, but were eliminated from the division race on Tuesday when Washington celebrated at Turner Field.
Wheeler (11-10) allowed five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. The Georgia native improved to 6-1 with a 1.92 ERA in 13 road starts, dating to May 29.
Wheeler worked out of a jam in the fifth inning. He gave up a two-out double to Andrelton Simmons and walked Freddie Freeman before striking out Justin Upton with a pitch in the dirt.
''I got in a lot of deep counts but I did make the pitches when I had to,'' Wheeler said. ''I had to really bear down and really go after them. That's a tough lineup right there.''
Daniel Murphy went 4 for 5 and scored on Duda's homer in the sixth. Murphy was hitting just .188 in 32 at-bats since returning from the disabled list on Sept. 9.
Julio Teheran (13-13) pitched out of trouble in the fifth when Dilson Herrera popped up with runners on first and third, and Wheeler struck out.
After Murphy's ground-rule double in the sixth, Duda hit a low breaking ball into the right-field seats for his 28th homer, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
Duda had struck out in his previous two at-bats.
Teheran gave up seven hits, two runs and struck out six in seven innings. He dropped to 0-4 with a 2.67 ERA in September.
''I made just one mistake that cost me two runs and cost us the game,'' Teheran said. ''That's part of the luck that I have. You try not to let it affect you, but it's kind of difficult for us right now.''
Carlos Torres pitched the seventh, Jeurys Familia worked the eighth, and Buddy Carlyle finished in the ninth for New York.
In the ninth, Herrera drew a bases-loaded walk from Jordan Walden to make it 3-0, and Eric Young Jr. added a two-run single off Luis Avilan for a 5-0 lead.
The Braves dropped to 8-50 when they score two runs or fewer.
Mets: Collins said CF Juan Lagares, sidelined by a hyperextended right elbow since Wednesday, will be reevaluated early next week and might be able to return for the season-ending series against Houston next weekend. OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis didn't play because of a kidney stone.
Braves: RF Jason Heyward wore a brace on his bruised left thumb and didn't play. Heyward, who was hit by a pitch on Wednesday, has received treatment for two days. X-rays taken on his hand were negative. ... Catcher Evan Gattis missed his 10th straight game as he recovers from strep throat and a kidney stone.
Mets: LHP Jonathon Niese (8-11) starts Saturday for the Mets. He is 2-2 with a 5.68 ERA in five career starts at Turner Field.
Braves: LHP Mike Minor (6-11) is 5-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 career starts against New York.
BACK IN THE BIGS
Wally Backman joined New York's coaching staff Friday for the last nine games after managing his second straight season at Triple-A Las Vegas. A Mets infielder from 1980-88, Backman hopes to return to the majors next year either as a manager or coach.
''I think that's why players play and coaches coach,'' he said.
Backman was hired to manage the Arizona Diamondbacks in November 2004, but was fired four days later after reports surfaced of legal and financial problems.