NEW YORK— This had the makings of a big series between two teams atop the NL East. The Braves facing the Mets at Citi Field, having been swept there in late April.

The Braves got the upper hand in the weekend series, widening their NL East lead over the Mets to four games, in a 4-2 win.

Jerry Manuel decided to bat Jose Reyes second in the lineup, since he could only bat right-handed, going with the switch-hitter Angel Pagan in the leadoff spot.

Reyes has been battling a sore left oblique, and that may have led to his big first-inning error.

Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was on the mound, and he put two men on with two outs in the opening inning. With runners on the corners for Atlanta, Troy Glaus hit a routine grounder to Reyes at short, but Reyes couldn’t field the ball cleanly, allowing the run to score.

In the Mets first, Pagan led off with a single to left field. With Reyes up, he stole second, but after several bunt attempts, Reyes struck out against Tommy Hanson. David Wright would strike out looking, followed by Ike Davis hitting an inning-ending comebacker, stranding Pagan at second base.

In the third, the Mets tied the game at 1-1. Pitcher R.A. Dickey led off with a single , Pagan beat out a bunt hit, and Reyes bunted the runners over to second and third. Wright hit a sacrifice fly to right, bringing Dickey in for the tying run.

The Braves put together a two-out rally in the fifth against Dickey. Omar Infante, who got four hits, singled. Brian McCann walked, and Troy Glaus singled in a run, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead.

The Mets came right back in the fifth. Dickey singled again and scored his second run on a Reyes double, tying the game at 2-2.

Dickey was throwing a pretty decent game, until it fell apart on him with two outs in the seventh. With the game still tied, 2-2, Melky Cabrera and Infante hit back-to-back home runs, giving the Braves a shocking 4-2 lead.

Those home runs knocked Dickey out of the game. Dickey did well for the most part, but his pitching line shows otherwise: 6.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 hits, 2 HR.

Trying to mount a comeback, the Mets entered the game 1-28 this season when trailing after seven innings, David Wright led off with a single in the eighth. After a fielder’s choice and strike out, Josh Thole walked after two wild pitches were thrown during his at-bat. With runners on the corners, Jeff Francoeur lined out to second on the first pitch he saw, ending the threat.

The Mets went down quietly in the ninth against former mate Billy Wagner, losing the first game of the series.

With the loss, the Mets are now 1-3 on the current home stand, and R.A. Dickey suffers his first home loss of the season.

The Mets have seemed to be flat this week, other than a five-run fifth on Monday night against the Reds.

They will try to even the series tomorrow afternoon, with Mike Pelfrey going up against Tim Hudson.

NL East standings (top 3 teams)
Atlanta 51-35
NY Mets 47-39 (4)
Philadelphia 45-40 (5 1/2)

Series probable pitchers:
July 10
New York: Mike Pelfrey (2010: 10-3, 3.39 ERA) vs. Atlanta: Tim Hudson (2010: 8-4, 2.44 ERA)
July 11
New York: Johan Santana (2010: 6-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. Atlanta: Derek Lowe (2010: 9-7, 4.40 ERA)

*Upcoming schedule:
New York Mets:
July 10-11 vs. Atlanta Braves
July 15-18 @ San Francisco Giants

Atlanta Braves:
July 10-11 @ New York Mets
July 15-18 vs. Milwaukee Brewers

*All-Star break is July 12-14

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