Offense sputters in Game 1 loss to Braves

Offense sputters in Game 1 loss to Braves

NEW YORK -- Braves rookie Lucas Sims may have scuffled a bit during his rotation debut last month, going 2-4 with a 4.41 ERA in his first six career starts. But he isn't scuffling now. Sims followed up a strong return to the rotation by taking a shutout into the seventh inning Monday, leading Atlanta to a 9-2 win over the Mets in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Citi Field. New York took Game 2 by a 3-2 score.

Sims retired the first six batters he faced, holding the Mets to just four hits and a walk over the game's first six innings. The only runs on Sims' line came after he left the game in the seventh.

"I felt good sticking with my game plan," Sims said. "All the experience that I've had so far, [I was able to] learn from it. I thought we had a good plan of attack and we executed it for the most part."

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Sims has been pitching with confidence since his return to the rotation.

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"He's got a really good breaking ball, been locating his fastball," Snitker said. "I guess he's pitching like he's trying to get you out. He's on the attack."

The game was scoreless until Ozzie Albies homered to lead off the fourth inning against Mets starter Chris Flexen, who gave up four runs in five-plus innings.

Albies' solo home run

Nick Markakis added a two-run double off Josh Smoker in the sixth, and Tyler Flowers -- who also threw out a pair of runners attempting to steal -- hit a two-run homer off Kevin McGowan in the eighth.

Flowers' two-run homer

"I'm glad I got another start," Flexen said. "I still think it was a positive outing. … I think it's going to help tremendously just getting the experience."

New York received little offense outside of Juan Lagares, who finished 3-for-3. The Mets fell 24 games under .500 for the first time since Oct. 2, 2009, which was also the last time they lost 90 in a season.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sixth-inning heartache: Flexen was cruising through easily the best start of his young career when he ran into a wall in the sixth. After Sims led off with a single, Flexen walked consecutive batters to load the bases, ending of his day. Smoker entered, allowing Markakis' two-run double and a sacrifice fly. All three runs went on Flexen's final line.

Markakis' two-run double

"I thought there were a lot of positives to take from today," Flexen said. "I was strong, solid through five, struggled in the sixth when I lost my command a little bit. Overall, it was positive."

Flexen strikes out Flowers

Rally cut short: The Mets finally chased Sims from the game in the seventh after Phillip Evans drew a leadoff walk and Lagares singled with two outs. That brought up rookie catcher Tomas Nido, making his first big league start in his fourth career game. Nido doubled to left to drive home the Mets' first runs against reliever Dan Winkler, but pinch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera popped up on the first pitch he saw to end the threat.

QUOTABLE
"He's an aggressive guy and he's got some bat speed and he's always hit in the Minor Leagues. Obviously down the road we'll see. When he gets to play a little bit more, we'll have a better idea. But for the most part, I think he's handled himself very well." -- Mets manager Terry Collins, on Nido

"I was fired up about that. It was starting to feel like a bit of a burden, honestly -- 'Get a hit! Get a hit!' So I was kind of begging running down the line. 'Please get through!'" -- Sims, on his sixth-inning single, the first hit of his Major League career.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Flowers threw out multiple runners in a game for just the fourth time in his career, and the first time since 2014. He nailed Jose Reyes attempting to steal third base in the fourth inning, then Lagares trying to swipe second in the fifth.

Flowers throws out Reyes

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Mets successfully challenged a call in the third inning, when Flexen attempted to cut down the lead runner at second base on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Umpire Joe West initially ruled Dansby Swanson safe at second, but the crew overturned the call following a replay review.

Flexen throws out Swanson

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York and covered the Braves on Monday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.