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Rapid Reaction: Braves 3, Mets 1

7/10/2014

NEW YORK -- Three out of four is not bad.

Understandably, the New York Mets wanted more. They hoped for more. Perhaps they even needed more, if you believe they can still make it back into contention in the National League East.

What they got this week was three straight wins over the Atlanta Braves, and then a loss in the series finale Thursday night at Citi Field. Bartolo Colon had his usual first-inning hiccup, and also his usual fine recovery after the first. But the Mets couldn't come back against Aaron Harang and the Braves' bullpen.

So the Mets still haven't swept a series against the Braves since July 20-23, 1989, so long ago that it came against a 97-loss Braves team -- four years before Chipper Jones began his 19-year Braves career.

Failing in the first: This first-inning thing is really getting crazy for Colon. He has now allowed first-inning runs in five consecutive starts, including two on Thursday against the Braves.

But it's crazier than that. Over the last five starts, Colon has allowed 11 first-inning runs -- and only four runs after the first (including one on Thursday).

For the season, Colon has allowed 18 first-inning runs in 18 starts. Only Kyle Kendrick of the Philadelphia Phillies has allowed more first-inning runs this year, with 23.

That guy again? This Freddie Freeman thing isn't real good for the Mets, either. The Braves first baseman had two more big hits against Colon, a first-inning double and a third-inning single. Freeman has 12 extra-base hits and 21 RBIs in his past 19 games against the Mets.

That guy again? Part II: Then there's the Aaron Harang thing. The Mets had just one run on four hits in seven innings against Harang on Thursday night. They have just two runs on six hits in 20 innings against Harang in three games this season.

Who's that at short? For the first time since the Mets went to a roster with no real backup shortstop on June 25, Collins pinch hit for Ruben Tejada in the eighth inning Thursday. Pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis struck out to strand the tying runs on base, and Eric Campbell went out to play shortstop for the first time in his big-league career.

Campbell's only prior pro experience at short was two games this year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Starting with the ninth: Mets manager Terry Collins went back to his pitcher-bats-eighth lineup, using it for the first time on a night Colon started because he wanted to use Eric Young Jr. as the ninth-place hitter against Harang.

It worked -- and it didn't.

It didn't work in the second inning, when Juan Lagares' two-out double was wasted because Colon came up and made the final out. But it did work in the third, when Young led off with a single and eventually scored on a David Wright single.

Challenging the Braves: For the third time in the series and the fifth time this season against the Braves, Collins used the replay system to overturn a call. This time, he got Jason Heyward called out on an eighth-inning play at first base, after umpire Todd Tichenor signaled safe.

While Collins has been right on five of his six challenges against Atlanta, he has succeeded on just four of 13 challenges against the rest of the league.

What's next: The Mets open their final series before the All-Star break with a Friday night (7:10 p.m. ET) game at Citi Field against the Miami Marlins. Zack Wheeler (4-8, 4.07), who threw a three-hit shutout against the Marlins last month in Miami, faces Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez (6-3, 2.27).