ATLANTA — Tommy Pham replaced Pete Alonso in the cleanup spot and acted as the cast. However, the rest of the game did not go according to the script.
The Mets avoided the worst with Alonso but failed to avoid the worst in this series. For the second night in a row, the Mets took a 4-1 lead over the Atlanta Braves before falling behind, 5-4, and ultimately losing, 7-5.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Michael Harris II launched Adam Ottavino sending a two-run homer over the wall to hand the Mets (30-32) their fifth straight loss and second straight loss in the series.
“I threw it right into the area,” Ottavino said. “A really mediocre place for me. I regret that.”
For the second night in a row, the Mets took a 4-1 lead over the Braves (37-24). This time they took a 2-0 lead before Max Scherzer gave up a point in fourth and two points in fifth.
Alonso was taken out of the game with what the team calls a “left wrist contusion,” after being hit in the left wrist with a 97 MPH fastball from Charlie Morton in the first inning. He left the game to undergo imaging Pham replaced him in the batting order and went 1 for 2 with a two-run home run and three RBIs.
The outfielder’s two-run homer against Morton in the fifth momentarily gave the Mets a 4-1 lead and he tied the game with a sacrifice fly ball in the seventh.
Pham came with the bases loaded and an exit. He watched Kirby Yates’ first four pitches before committing one and working the full count. On the seventh pitch from the stick, Pham launched a towering fly ball towards the field wall at center right. Somehow, Ronald Acuna Jr. came with the ball after making a spectacular jump catch.
The fly ball scored Brandon Nimmo to tie the game at 5-5.
“Tommy – amazing day,” Alonso said. “He had great quality hitters, he filled it all in, a sack fly and a big homer. He stepped in and did the four-hole role very well. He did a great job.”
He stayed tied until eighth. Brooks Raley started the inning and was charged for the loss after his baserunner homered on Harris. He was withdrawn after yielding a brace to Marcell Ozuna. The Mets played it conservative by firing Raley after giving up hard contact, but it was a gamble to throw Ottavino on back-to-back nights.
AJ Minter recorded the save with a perfect ninth.
“We have good people there who are able to do the job and have done it for us at times this year,” Showalter said of his bullpen, which boasts a 4.17 ERA (at tied for 20th in MLB). “We will get back on track. It’s not easy to get these guys out.
No lead is safe against the Braves. Late in the fifth inning, Sean Murphy hit a two-run homer off Scherzer to bring the Braves within a run. Atlanta rallied with two outs to score two more in the sixth to chase Scherzer out of the game after five earned runs on 11 hits and 10 strikeouts, a season high.
“It’s a very tough formation to get through, as he’s done a few times,” Showalter said. “He gave us a good chance to win. It is difficult to go through this range. We had 2-3 guys in the bullpen today, so we were hoping to get past that sixth inning because that would have set us up to pitch the last three innings there. One step away. He just wasn’t able to fully execute what he was trying to do.
It was Scherzer’s 111th double-digit at-bat. The right-handed veteran passed Roger Clemens for third all-time in double-figure batting games, with Randy Johnson (212) and Nolan Ryan (215) still well ahead of the rest of the field. Right after Scherzer recorded that 10th strikeout, the hard hits came.
“Tonight was a bit of a weird night,” Scherzer said. “I did a lot of things right. I didn’t step on anybody, I had a lot of first pitch strikes and used all my pitches and everything was working. But later in the game usually you win and lose ball matches on your last 15 pitches… You just want to execute better in those situations and I didn’t.
Scherzer came out after 5 and 2/3 innings. Neither runner considered the decision, with Morton leaving after 4 and 2/3.
“We’re okay; we’re competitive,” Scherzer said. “It’s Major League Baseball. That’s what happens. You wanna go out there and be the best there [are] times you have other times ready to fight. Every day is a new day. We will go there tomorrow. We went out and we will win tomorrow.