Braves’ Colon Roughed Up Early, Bullpen Provides No Relief

The Mets didn’t often see Bartolo Colon as hittable as he was Wednesday night at SunTrust Park, where the Braves veteran faced his former team and gave up three doubles and a walk before recording an out.

Trailing 5-0 before the bottom of the third inning, the Braves made things slightly interesting before the Mets ended any suspense by tacking on a four-run fifth inning against reliever Josh Collmenter en route to a 16-5 win before a crowd of 22,656, most of whom were gone by the seventh inning.

Things went from bad to blowout when the Mets scored seven runs in the eighth against relievers Eric O’Flaherty and Matt Wisler, who got rocked for a second consecutive night after giving up a ninth-inning grand slam in a Braves win Tuesday.

Colon (1-3) will turn 44 in three weeks, and his past three starts have served as a reminder that the oldest player in baseball is mortal, not an ageless pitching machine despite his performance the previous three seasons with the Mets.

He lasted four innings Wednesday and gave up seven hits, five runs and two walks without a strikeout as his ERA climbed to 6.27. In his past three starts, Colon has pitched 16 innings and surrendered 28 hits, 15 runs and five walks with nine strikeouts.

After sweeping the Padres in the first four games at SunTrust Park, the Braves have lost five of the past six at home and fell back to last place in the National League East with Wednesday’s loss. After the four-game Mets series finale Thursday, the Cardinals come to town for a three-game series before the Braves have another three-city trip.

Jose Reyes matched a career high with five RBIs for the Mets, who racked up 20 hits and won for the fourth time in six games since losing 10 of 11 and went from last place to third in the division with the win. They took two of three at Washington before coming to Atlanta and winning two of the first three in a four-game series that ends Thursday night.

Colon left with the Braves trailing 5-1, replaced by pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio with two on and two out in the fourth inning. Bonifacio has struggled mightily but came through with a two-run pinch-hit triple, the first triple hit at SunTrust in the 10th game played at the ballpark.

That got the Braves within 5-3, but Collmenter gave up four runs and five hits in the fifth inning capped by a two-run, two-out single by pitcher Jacob deGrom, the second run scoring on the play when Tyler Flowers dropped right fielder Nick Markakis’ throw before he could apply the tag.

DeGrom had his worst start of the season, allowing eight hits, a season-high five runs and five walks in a season-low five innings — after entering with a 2.84 ERA and no starts with more than three runs allowed.

But it didn’t much matter because of the hole that Colon put the Braves in and the big inning against Collmenter at precisely the point of the game where the Braves needed a shutdown inning from their bullpen.

DeGrom had not allowed more than three runs in any of his five previous starts and pitched six scoreless innings of two-hit ball against the Braves on April 5 in a 12-inning, 3-1 Braves win in which both deGrom and Colon were both gone after six innings. Colon was also impressive in that game at New York, the second game of the season, when he held his former team to two hits and one run in six innings.

Colon also limited the Padres to one hit and one run in seven innings on April 16. But in his other four starts, the stocky veteran has allowed 35 hits and 21 runs in 20 innings (9.45 ERA) with seven walks and 11 strikeouts.

He got knocked around Wednesday by a Mets team that was without injured hitters Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores. Michael Conforto and Asdrubal Cabrera started the game with consecutive doubles and Jay Bruce drew a walk before Neil Walker doubled to drive in the second run of the inning.

The inning could have been worse for Colon if Walker hadn’t forgot how many outs there where when he ran from second on Reyes’ two-out pop fly that Dansby Swanson caught in shallow left field. Walker was already at third base before turning around and trying to scramble back, to no avail. Easy double play.

Colon also got an inadvertent assist from a former Mets teammate in the three-run third inning when Reyes wasn’t paying attention as he walked back to second base on T.J. Rivera’s fly out to right field. Markakis threw to Swanson, who alertly tagged the unaware Reyes a step away from second base to end the inning.

But the Braves didn’t take advantage of the Mets’ carelessness, and soon Braves relievers were giving up multiple runs much as Colon had.

Jace Peterson added a two-run double for the Braves, Tyler Flowers had two hits and a walk and Swanson reached base four times on three walks and an error. Swanson has reached base in 10 consecutive games, totaling seven hits and eight walks in that span, after going 1-for-20 with no walks in his previous five games.