After recording three quality starts in row (though he lost each one), Mets’ starter Pat Misch was hammered in his three innings of work tonight in Atlanta. He gave up five runs on eight hits, including a massive three-run homer to Braves’ rookie phenom Jason Heyward with two outs in the second inning. The Braves won the game 9-3.

Braves’ starter Jair Jurrjens pitched in and out trouble all night but was able to keep the Mets’ bats at bay. He finished with five 2/3 innings pitched, giving up three runs on six hits and six walks. Other than tonight’s start, he has looked great since coming off the DL in late June and will play a major role in September as the Braves try to clinch the division title.

The Mets mustered only three runs, three extra base hits, and a putrid 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position as their offensive woes continue. They did fight back to tie the game in the top of the second after the Braves plated two runs in the first. However, Heyward’s homer buried the Mets, and they were unable to rebound as the Braves scored four unanswered runs.

The game got so ugly that Oliver Perez made his first appearance since August 1st. He immediately gave up an absolute bomb to Brian McCann, but somehow got three outs in the seventh.

It’s not like the Mets didn’t have their chances tonight. With one out in the top of the fifth, Luis Castillo walked, followed by a Chris Carter single to set up first and third. David Wright then popped up to second on the first pitch of the at-bat and Ike Davis struck out.

In the sixth, the Mets had second and third with one out. Angel Pagan, who has been the team’s most consistent hitter with runners in scoring position, took a called third strike on a pitch that hit the black. After Castillo walked,  Carter grounded out weakly to short to end the rally.

The game was the first of the Mets’ four game series in Atlanta, where they have struggled since Turner Field was built (the Mets are 37-76 at Turner). While the Mets’ efforts to catch the Braves atop the division appear futile, the Mets’ hope for a Wild Card berth further diminished with the loss. The Mets now sit at nine games out of the lead behind a number of teams.

Misch was 11-4 with AAA Buffalo before being recalled a few weeks ago. He is likely to stick with the big club when rosters expand, but he may lose his rotation spot to the young prospect Jenrry Mejia. Mejia has shown glimpses of brilliance in six starts for AA Binghamton and one tonight for Buffalo, and the Mets would like to gauge for their future.

Time continues to run out on this Mets’ season. If they can’t get their act together soon and gain some momentum to close out the season, it will seem like an eternity to the opening of Spring Training 2011.

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