Wisler, Braves stall Mets' push toward NL East title, 6-2
NEW YORK (AP) No one got a hit with someone in scoring position. Their big bopper stood still in the batter's box when strike three bounced away. Their setup man got tagged again.
Even as his New York Mets inched closer to the NL East title, manager Terry Collins wasn't thrilled with what he saw.
''All of a sudden, we've hit a wall,'' he said.
Rookie right-hander Matt Wisler stopped his nine-start winless drought and the Atlanta Braves stalled the Mets' push toward the postseason with a 6-2 victory Tuesday night.
David Wright homered as the Mets lost for the fifth time in seven games. They stayed 6 1/2 games ahead of Washington, whose loss to Baltimore cut New York's magic number to six for clinching the division.
''Looks like we're tight,'' Collins said.
The Mets had won five in a row against Atlanta, and Wright put them ahead again with a solo homer in the first. It was his first drive at Citi Field during an injury-interrupted season.
But other than Daniel Murphy's two doubles, New York rarely dented Wisler in finishing 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
''I don't think we're tight,'' Wright said, later adding, ''We need to get some momentum back on our side.''
Mets star Yoenis Cespedes made no forward progress when he struck out in the fourth. He appeared to check with the plate umpire on whether he swung, even when the ball went to the backstop, and was easily thrown out at first.
''I'd like him to run, yes,'' Collins said.
Despite the loss, Collins hadn't lost his sense of humor. Asked about a strategic move that went awry, he deadpanned: ''I'm going to go home and my wife's going to tell me, `You were an idiot!'''
Down 4-1, the Mets loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. Edwin Jackson, Atlanta's fourth pitcher of the inning, gave up a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Michael Cuddyer and got Wilmer Flores on a grounder to protect the lead.
Pinch-hitter Adonis Garcia lined a two-out, two-run double in the ninth off Mets reliever Tyler Clippard. In his last 8 1-3 innings, Clippard has given up nine runs.
Jace Peterson led off the Atlanta fifth with a home run and Hector Olivera launched a three-run shot later in the inning off Logan Verrett (1-2).
Verrett pitched in place of All-Star Jacob deGrom, who was pushed back for extra rest. This was Verrett's third spot start of the season - he gave Matt Harvey breaks with the first two outings and threw well both times.
Wisler (6-8) struck out a career-high eight and left after a leadoff walk in the eighth. The 23-year-old, who beat the Mets in his big league debut June 19, had been 0-7 in his last nine starts.
Earlier this month, Wisler pitched well against the Mets but wound up with a loss.
''I think my stuff kind of matches up with their weaknesses,'' he said. ''They're a really good hitting team, obviously, they're tops in our division and it's a battle every time against them. But I continue to have some good luck against them.''
Olivera's tiebreaking homer came after an intentional walk to Nick Markakis with two outs.
The Braves won for just the eighth time in 35 games. They have the second-worst record in the majors after trailing the Mets by only 1 1/2 games a few days before the All-Star break.
Braves: Markakis started after missing two games because of stiffness in his upper back and neck.
Mets: 3B-2B Juan Uribe is ''still pretty sore'' after bruising his chest on a diving stop Sunday night, Collins said. Collins said it didn't sound as if Uribe was available. ... Slumping C Travis d'Arnaud pinch-hit in the ninth. Collins said it was a ''safe bet'' d'Arnaud would be in the lineup Wednesday. ... Righty reliever Carlos Torres is slowed by a strained left calf.
Even with the Braves struggling, manager Fredi Gonzalez is secure - in July, the team extended his contract through 2016. Collins has a club option for next season and Gonzalez said Mets management should take care of his counterpart now. ''Do the right thing for T.C.,'' Gonzalez said.
Braves: RHP Williams Perez (6-6, 5.16 ERA) is 2-0 in his last three starts. The no-decision was against the Mets, when he pitched six innings and gave up three runs. His lone career save came this year vs. the Mets.
Mets: Bartolo Colon (14-12, 4.15) has won all four of his starts vs. the Braves this season. Three Atlanta hitters have caused him trouble - Andrelton Simmons (11 for 20), Freddie Freeman (9 for 20) and Nick Swisher (7 for 15 with two homers).