WHAT IT MEANS: Jair Jurrjens, who owns the top ERA in the majors, has allowed three or more earned runs only twice this season. Both times have come against the Mets -- in the past 10 days no less -- as the Amazin's have handed Jurrjens his second and third losses of the season.
Pending the outcome of the Phillies-Marlins game, the Mets moved into a third-place tie in the NL East -- their first time in better than fourth place since April 10.
Tim Byrdak bailed out the Mets in the seventh, striking out pinch-hitters Brian McCann and Diory Hernandez to strand two runners and preserve a two-run lead. Jason Isringhausen then served up a solo homer to Dan Uggla in the eighth as the Braves pulled within a run. Chipper Jones nearly followed with a game-tying long ball, but Carlos Beltran corralled the shot off Isringhausen at the right-field wall.
Jonathon Niese limited Atlanta to two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings while striking out four to outpitch Jurrjens and continue a solid string of performances by Mets starters. Niese (6-5) has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his past six starts. He moved over .500 for the first time this season. Since May 26, Mets starters are 7-2 with a 1.72 ERA (15 earned runs in 78 2/3 innings) spanning 19 games.
Jurrjens, who was charged with four runs, lasted a season-low 5 1/3 innings and had his ERA rise from 1.82 to 2.13.
New York Mets
GOT HIS NUMBER: Terry Collins started Willie Harris over Jason Bay in left field because of Harris' past success against Jurrjens. That trend continued. After Jose Reyes led off the game with an infield single, Harris walked, placing Reyes in scoring position for Beltran's RBI single. In the third, Harris singled and scored on Lucas Duda's sacrifice fly as the Mets took a 3-1 lead. Harris went 1-for-2 with two walks against Jurrjens, upping his career mark to 8-for-16 with four walks.
MULTI-THREAT: Reyes went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, two steals and an RBI single, which came in the sixth inning and plated Ruben Tejada to give the Mets a 4-1 lead. Reyes now has a major league-best 34 multi-hit games.
About the only thing that slowed Reyes was the infield dirt. Reyes lost his footing retreating to first base on a pickoff throw in the first inning, requiring the grounds crew to attend to the area. Then, Reyes again tumbled making a hard turn around first after a third-inning single. It affected Reyes in the field, too. In the seventh, Alex Gonzalez reached on what was ruled an infield single, when Reyes lost his footing fielding the grounder and spiked the ensuing throw into the ground.
The slip at shortstop proved costly. After Josh Thole was charged with a passed ball, David Ross doubled over the head of left-field defensive replacement Jason Pridie to score Gonzalez and chase Niese with one out in the seventh as the Braves moved within 4-2.
RUNNING MAN: Beltran, after not having an official steal attempt through the Mets' first 63 games, now has swiped two bases since Saturday. Beltran stole second in the fifth inning.
OUCH: Josh Thole left the game prior to the bottom of the ninth after being struck in the left knee/ankle by a pitch from Craig Kimbrel.
K-ROD TRACKER: Francisco Rodriguez notched his 19th save and 26th game finished. He is on pace for 63 games finished, eight over the threshold for his contract to vest at $17.5 million for 2012.
WHAT'S NEXT: Dillon Gee bids to move to 8-0 when he opposes right-hander Tim Hudson (5-5, 4.06 ERA) on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. The Mets have won all nine of Gee's starts this season. He has the best start to a season by a rookie in the majors since Jered Weaver went 9-0 in 2006 with the Angels before suffering his first loss. The Mets for the third time on this road trip will attempt to reach .500 for the first time since they were 22-22 on May 20.