Clinging to wild card hopes, Mets host Braves again

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THE NEW YORK METS’ playoff hopes looked pretty dim following a Friday night in which they lost by 13 runs and almost everyone else battling for the final National League wild card spot won.

But the Mets’ picture doesn’t look nearly as bleak following a Saturday in which they won and almost everyone else in the race lost.

Such is life on the outside of contention looking in for the Mets, who will try to remain in the thick of things Sunday when they host the Atlanta Braves in the finale of a three-game series between the NL East rivals.

Rick Porcello (1-5, 6.06 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mets against Kyle Wright (1-4, 7.20) in a battle of right-handers.

The Mets evened the series Saturday, when rookie left-hander David Peterson earned the win by striking out a career-high 10 over six innings and Robinson Cano homered and collected three RBIs in a 7-2 victory.

A lopsided 15-2 loss to the Braves on Friday, coupled with wins by three of the four teams ahead of them in the wild card race (the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers) left the Mets with a seemingly steep hill to climb.

But the win by the Mets (24-28) on Saturday and losses by the Reds and Giants pulled New York within 1 1/2 games of Cincinnati, San Francisco and Milwaukee for the final wild card spot.

“The fact that we can still compete for a spot makes every game important, which makes the atmosphere that much better,” said Mets reliever Justin Wilson, who preserved a 3-1 lead in the seventh by getting hot-hitting Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman to hit into an inning-ending double play. “Down the stretch, the losses hurt a little bit more and the wins feel a little bit better just because of the situation that we’re in.”

The situation isn’t nearly as precarious for the Braves (30-22), though their NL East lead over the Miami Marlins shrunk to 2 1/2 games by virtue of the Marlins’ 7-3 home win over the Washington Nationals.

A second straight solid performance by Wright — who earned his first big league win in his most recent start Sept. 13 by allowing four runs (three earned) over six innings as the Braves beat the Nationals 8-4 — would both solidify Atlanta’s playoff standing and provide more evidence he can be a member of a postseason rotation that needs reliable starters behind ace Max Fried and promising rookie Ian Anderson.

Wright has a 7.46 ERA in 50 2/3 career innings.

“I know I’m capable and I know I have great stuff,” Wright said following the win over the Nationals. “Sometimes I just have to get out of my own way. I feel like I’m getting back to that and pitching the way I can.”

Porcello took the loss Tuesday, when he gave up four runs over six innings as the Mets fell to the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-1. He is 0-4 with a 5.75 ERA in his last seven starts.

Porcello is 3-2 with a 5.10 ERA in six career starts against the Braves. Wright is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three games (two starts) against the Mets. — Reuters