Mets held to one hit by Braves pitchers
Wright singles off reliever Avilan with two outs in the eighth
NEW YORK -- Hours after trading first baseman Ike Davis, the slugger they'd envisioned filling the middle of their lineup for years, the Mets scratched out only a single base hit, as Braves right-hander Aaron Harang no-hit them for seven innings before David Wright singled with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Luis Avilan.
It wasn't nearly enough to rally the Mets to victory, and they lost Friday night's series opener, 6-0. New York avoided being no-hit for the first time since Houston's Darryl Kile's feat in 1993, but the team fell to an 8-8 record, three games behind the division-leading Braves.
Harang, who made four starts for the Mets last season, needed 121 pitches to get 21 outs because he walked six and struck out five. Avilan entered in the eighth inning and retired Eric Young Jr. with a strikeout and Daniel Murphy on a short grounder down the first-base line before Wright lined a 1-1 curveball past shortstop Andrelton Simmons for a clean single.
"I was just fortunate where he just left it up a little bit," Wright said. "You want to try to get some guys on base to see if we can score some runs and actually win the game. I don't think anybody cares too much about the no-hit side of it. I think it's more important that we put a couple guys on base and see what can happen and try to win the game."
Despite having only one hit, the Mets had multiple runners on base in both the sixth and seventh innings, as Harang walked a pair in both frames. Still, the 13-year veteran bore down when he needed to, striking out right fielder Curtis Granderson looking with a 2-2 fastball to end the sixth and getting pinch-hitter Andrew Brown swinging with a full-count slider to end the seventh.
"[Harang's stuff] was moving everywhere," Wright said. "It was a good day for him today. He threw any pitch in any count -- two-seamers, cutters, sliders, curveballs, changeups. You name it, he was throwing it and felt comfortable in any count. … I think he threw Brownie a 3-2 slider or curveball, so you could tell just how confident he was."
New York entered the night ranked a respectable fifth in the National League in runs and sixth in walks, though its batting average (.229) and on-base percentage (.299) were last and third to last, respectively. To their credit, the Mets remained disciplined and accepted walks from Harang, though they did little else.
"He doesn't make a lot of mistakes on the plate," manager Terry Collins said. "That's why you may look up and he's walked four or five, but he misses off the sides. That's why he's pitched so well so far. Even though he started fatiguing, he didn't make any mistakes on the dish."
Left-hander Jon Niese pitched well but couldn't match his counterpart. He allowed one run in six innings, striking out seven while allowing four hits and three walks.
The Braves plated four of their six runs in the eighth inning off reliever Gonzalez Germen, a barrage started with a two-run homer by Freddie Freeman. A few batters later, Dan Uggla made it all the way around the bases -- he doubled, advanced to third as the Mets threw out Justin Upton at home plate and then scored when catcher Travis d'Arnaud threw the ball into left field while trying to make a play at third. Chris Johnson, who'd doubled home a run in the second inning, then singled and scored on a double that Ryan Doumit barely lifted over Granderson. Freeman doubled home another run in the ninth.
In his pregame remarks, Collins reiterated the club's need to end its continued Citi Field foibles, yet New York's losing ways persisted at home. The Mets are now 2-5 at home and 6-3 on the road, a reverse split that mirrors their last two seasons.
Center fielder Chris Young rejoined the lineup after a 15-day stint on the disabled list, but neither he nor his teammates was able to muster any sort of offensive attack.