ATLANTA -- Instead of delighting the 47,144 sold-out crowd that flocked to Turner Field for Tuesday night's home opener, the Braves instead squandered Aaron Harang's latest gem by extending their offensive woes in a 4-0 loss to Bartolo Colon and the Mets.
After Harang exited his six-inning effort facing a 1-0 deficit, Gus Schlosser surrendered a pair of seventh-inning runs to give the Mets what had to feel like a comfortable three-run cushion.
The Braves have now scored two runs or fewer in five of their first seven games.
The Braves can feel good about the fact that they have managed to record four victories as their offense has gone through this futile stretch. But at the same time, they realize they have placed some undue pressure on a suspect starting rotation that has surprisingly fashioned a 1.68 ERA.
Harang notched nine strikeouts and surrendered just two hits while limiting the Mets to one run during his 110-pitch effort. But the veteran right-hander paid the price when he issued two of his four walks and uncorked a wild pitch during the third inning.
Ruben Tejada drew a walk to begin the third and then took second base when Eric Young Jr. was given a free pass with one out. After advancing to third base on Daniel Murphy's flyout, Tejada scored when Braves catcher Evan Gattis was unable to block Harang's 0-2 slider in the dirt withDavid Wright at the plate.
The early one-run advantage was more than enough for Colon, who scattered six hits over seven innings. Freddie Freeman's two-out double in the first inning accounted for Atlanta's only extra-base hit.
After Freeman was left stranded in the first inning, the Braves did not advance a runner past first base until the seventh inning, when Andrelton Simmons singled with two outs and then took second base when the shortstop Tejada fumbled Ryan Doumit's grounder. But instead of taking advantage of the situation, leadoff hitter Jason Heyward grounded out to extend his hitless streak to 21 at-bats. Heyward would add to his frustrations when, serving as the tying run with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, he flied out to the warning track in center field off Jose Valverde.
While his team's offense remained anemic, Harang struck out five of the final seven batters he faced. But his effort started to go to waste when Travis d'Arnaud began New York's two-run seventh inning with a double that a diving Justin Upton missed after ranging toward center field. Tejada then followed with an RBI single against Schlosser.
There was not necessarily much optimism when Harang signed with the Braves hours after the Indians released him on March 24. But the 35-year-old right-hander has allowed just one run in the 12 2/3 innings that have encompassed his first two starts.
RHP Ervin Santana gets the start in Wednesday's Game 2 of the three-game series. The Mets will send RHP Zach Wheeler against the Braves.
Although he was the losing pitcher, Harang has a .071 ERA after giving up only one run.
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt