Mets blow two late leads in 4-3 loss to Braves

After Devin Mesoraco had given the Mets the lead in the top of the ninth with a solo homer, Seth Lugo surrendered a two-run blast to Charlie Culberson in the bottom of the inning to lift the Braves over the Mets, 4-3, in the opener of Monday’s doubleheader at SunTrust Park.

Things you should know about today’s game…

1) Seth Lugo allowed consecutive singles to Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman and a sacrifice fly to Nick Markakis that tied the game in the eighth, 2-2, which snapped his scoreless streak at 17 innings. He remained in the game during the ninth and issued a leadoff walk to Johan Carmago before retiring Dansby Swanson on a fly out. Culberson followed with his first home run of the season off Lugo (1-1).

2) DeGrom allowed a run on five hits, three walks and struck out eight in seven innings on a season-high 115 pitches. He fired six scoreless frames before surrendering a leadoff homer to Tyler Flowers, the first long ball he’s allowed in 45 2/3 innings. Preston Tucker followed with a walk and Camargo singled off Asdrubal Cabrera’s glove to put runners at the corners with nobody out. DeGrom retired the next three batters on a strikeout, pop out and ground out to keep New York ahead, 2-1. He also worked out of a bases-loaded one-out situation in the fourth by registering a pair of strikeouts.

3) DeGrom took a no-decision for the seventh time this season despite allowing one run or fewer in nine of 11 starts. He established a franchise record by surrendering one run or less for the seventh straight start during which he has an 0.45 ERA in 40 1/3 innings. The right-hander has yielded zero or one run 54 times in 118 career starts. DeGrom lowered his ERA to a National League-best, 1.52.

4) Mesoraco homered for the second straight day and went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. All five of his homers as a Met have come in the eighth inning or later, including three in the ninth. Luis Guillorme doubled in a run and Jose Bautista singled and walked twice, making him 5-for-11 (.454) in six games as a Met.

This has gone beyond the ridiculous. Forget for a minute the bad luck Jacob deGrom has experienced. For whatever reason, there is always one pitcher that suffers through this sort of thing. But the Mets penchant for gut-wrenching losses almost defies explanation. Every team suffers losses like this. None do to the extent New York does. It’s truly mind-boggling.

I don’t care what Mickey Callaway said during the postgame show. There was no reason not to use Jeurys Familia in that role. That is not a slight on Seth Lugo, who has been tremendous all season, particularly this month. Perhaps if he had a stress-free eighth inning, I could give Callaway more leeway in his decision to bypass Familia. But Lugo threw 18 pitches and he was clearly struggling to throw his curveball for strikes down in the zone, and he endured a tough frame. Familia was warming and with Lugo’s spot due up in the top of the inning and a runner at first with one out, the smart move would have been to lift him for a pinch hitter.

I’ll be the first to admit that players need to perform. It’s on them. Blaming the manager is easy, especially when it comes to bullpen decisions. But days after extolling his closer as having the best year of his career to date, he holds him back for what may or may not happen in a game that may or may not be played. It was a poor decision and it cost the Mets a game they desperately needed to win. There is just no excuse for it, rookie manager or not.

News and notes…

The Mets have lost four straight games and six of seven to fall to .500 (25-25) for the first time this season.

New York has dropped six consecutive games to the Braves since winning their first meeting of the season.

The Mets’ bullpen has surrendered 20 runs and 32 hits in 20 innings (9.00 ERA) over their last seven games.

DeGrom has held opponents hitless in their last 28 at-bats (15 strikeouts) with runners in scoring position in his last seven starts. Opponents are batting .093 (4-for-43) in those situations against him this season, including 2-for-22 (.091) with two outs.

The Mets activated Kevin Plawecki (broken hand) and Hansel Robles (knee sprain) from the 10-day disabled list and recalled Phillip Evans from Triple-A Las Vegas. They placed Wilmer Flores (lower back soreness) and AJ Ramos (rotator cuff tendinitis) on the 10-day disabled list. Tomas Nido was optioned to Double-A Binghamton. Gerson Bautista was summoned from Las Vegas as the 26th man for today’s doubleheader.

What’s next…

The Mets (25-25) will try to rebound in the nightcap against the Braves (31-21) tonight at SunTrust Park at 7 p.m. on SNY.

P.J. Conlon (0-0, 7.36 ERA, 1 K, 1.64 WHIP) makes his second Major League start in the second game after his recall from Triple-A Sunday. The Northern Ireland-born southpaw surrendered three runs over 3 2/3 innings in his debut against the Reds on May 7 at Great American Ball Park. He was not involved in his team’s 7-6 win.

Brandon McCarthy (5-2, 4.67 ERA, 43 Ks, 1.58 WHIP) will get the nod tonight in his 11th start of the season. He began the month by allowing 14 runs on 23 hits over 8 1/3 innings spanning two starts, but he’s rebounded to surrendered one run in each of his last two outings. McCarthy tossed six scoreless innings against the Mets as a member of the Dodgers last June 20 to pick up the win. The 34-year-old is 1-2 with a 2.41 ERA in three career starts against New York.

(Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger)

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