NEW YORK -- Given the Mets' stated goal of winning as much as possible down the stretch, the team has an opportunity to play spoiler against all three National League East teams in contention.
So far, however, they haven't found much success upending their rivals' plans. After dropping two straight in Washington last week, the Mets returned home to lose three of four against the Braves at Citi Field. Nick Markakis homered to give Atlanta the series capper in the 10th inning Sunday, sending the Mets to a 5-4 defeat.
Stuck in a tie game in the ninth, the Mets and Braves traded runs when Ronald Acuna Jr. hit an RBI single against Seth Lugo, and Devin Mesoraco answered with a solo homer off Braves closer A.J. Minter. Mets reliever Tyler Bashlor entered in the 10th, allowing a one-out homer to Markakis for the game's decisive run.
"He probably learned a lesson," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said of Bashlor, "and any time those guys are learning a lesson like that to make them better, then we are going to be better off in the future for it. This is a good evaluation time for all of those young guys."
Staked to an early advantage, another of those young guys, rookie Corey Oswalt, carved through the Braves' lineup until opposing pitcher Julio Teheran hit his first career homer off the right-hander in the fifth. Two innings later, Johan Camargo hit a leadoff single and Ender Inciarte followed with a game-tying two-run homer off Oswalt, who lasted one additional batter.
"Any time you get a young kid pitching into the seventh and giving up minimal runs, you have to be happy about it," Callaway said. "So he's done a fantastic job."
Oswalt allowed three or fewer runs for the fifth consecutive start, posting a 3.81 ERA over that stretch. Whether he makes another rotation turn will depend upon the health of Steven Matz, whom Oswalt replaced in the rotation.
"It was nice," Oswalt said of his outing. "I made a couple of bad pitches there in the seventh, but I felt pretty good."
The Mets put plenty of traffic on the bases early against Teheran, who allowed a Wilmer Flores RBI single in the first inning and a Jeff McNeil run-scoring double in the third. Austin Jackson also homered off Teheran, who fell short of a quality start for the first time in his last six outings against the Mets.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Stranded in scoring position: The Mets nearly came from behind to tie the game a second time, when Flores doubled to lead off the 10th against Jesse Biddle and Michael Conforto hit a ground ball to move Flores to third. But with one out, Jose Bautista hit another grounder to Camargo, freezing Flores near the third-base bag. The next batter, Todd Frazier, also grounded out to end the game.
Bautista finished 0-for-5 with a double play and three strikeouts, deepening his slump to 0-for-23.
"He's kind of off-kilter," Callaway said. "He's a professional. He will get it back at some point."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With his team down to its final two outs, Mesoraco launched a Minter fastball off the left-field wall, where it struck the orange home run line. Originally ruled a double, the 376-foot blast became a home run after a crew-chief review. It was Mesoraco's fourth ninth-inning homer since joining the Mets, tied for the most in the NL.
Giancarlo Stanton leads the Majors with five ninth-inning homers.
HE SAID IT
"Coming from Double-A, it's a big jump. I'm trying to be a sponge and soak up everything I can." -- Bashlor, on his rookie season
Noah Syndergaard's quest for consistency will continue when the Mets welcome the Reds to Citi Field on Monday for the first of three games. Syndergaard will take on right-hander Homer Bailey in the 7:10 p.m. ET opener of a series lacking the maximum drama: the Mets will not face Matt Harvey in the three-game set.