Ronald Acuna Jr., hits game-ending home run against Mets as Pete Alonso sits out with injury

ATLANTA – A nutty back-and-forth series finale between division enemies culminated in a Mets loss in a flash, with the possibility of more bad news waiting for them once they arrive in Miami.

Jacob Barnes gave up a walk-off home run on the first pitch he offered to Ronald Acuna Jr., who led off the ninth inning, and the Mets suffered a 5-4 loss to the Braves on Wednesday night at Truist Park. Besides Trevor May, Joey Lucchesi and Barnes, every other reliever in an utterly exhausted Mets bullpen was unavailable to the team for the ninth inning.

The Mets’ best slugger, Pete Alonso, sat on the bench the whole night, in what was initially described as a day off, instead of being used in a pinch-hit situation in the late innings. After the game, Luis Rojas said Alonso was unavailable because he was dealing with soreness in his left wrist. The manager said he didn’t reveal Alonso’s injury pregame, which he believes the first baseman sustained on a hit-by-pitch in St. Louis two weeks ago, because it would’ve been a competitive disadvantage against the Braves.

Alonso received X-rays on his left wrist, which came back negative in St. Louis, so he kept playing since that hit by pitch on May 5, per Rojas. The Mets flew to Miami following the loss on Wednesday with the possibility that Alonso could become the 15th player on their injured list.

“We’ll reassess on Friday to see how he feels,” said Rojas, who added Alonso will “probably” receive an MRI.

The Mets (20-17) came extraordinarily close to doing something they haven’t done in five years: sweeping a series in Atlanta. The spell still hasn’t been broken since April 2016, despite the ball continuing to find Tomas Nido’s bat and the bullpen stringing together a commendable performance.

Barnes put the entire banged up Mets roster on his back in an unshakable eighth inning, inheriting Aaron Loup’s runners on first and second with no outs, to keep the game tied at 4-4. With help from a perfect James McCann throw to catch Dansby Swanson trying to steal third, Barnes struck out two batters and pulled a Houdini trick to escape the jam, until he ultimately surrendered the game-winning dinger to Acuna in the ninth.

The Mets, having overworked their taxed bullpen this series, needed David Peterson to go deep into the game on Wednesday. Though he began the night looking dominant — pitching three perfect innings, inducing a ton of soft contact and facing the minimum through four — it all fell apart in the fifth. The Braves got to Peterson their second time through the order, scoring three runs off the southpaw on two-out hits.

“That whole time, I felt like we were one pitch away from getting out of that inning,” Peterson said.

Peterson allowed five consecutive batters to reach base, one via hit-by-pitch, three singles and a walk, including an RBI knock to opposing pitcher Charlie Morton. Peterson enjoyed a solid breakout rookie season for the Mets in last year’s 60-game season but has been inconsistent through his first eight starts this year.

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“They ambushed him that inning,” Rojas said of Peterson’s meltdown. “Coming here, we knew the Braves were really aggressive first pitch, and that’s exactly what they did.”

Peterson raised his ERA to 4.97 after he surrendered three earned runs on five hits across 4.2 innings and 62 pitches. He has pitched six or more innings just three times this season.

A dicey situation worked out well for Rojas and the Mets in the sixth inning after Drew Smith put runners in scoring position. The manager’s scheme set up the Amazin’s three-run rally in the seventh.

Rojas forced Atlanta skipper Brian Snitker’s hand by intentionally walking Guillermo Heredia to load the bases. Snitker took Morton out of the game and put in pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval, who promptly lined out to end the sixth. The strategy helped the Mets, at the time, keep their deficit to two runs and face an unpredictable Atlanta bullpen for the remainder of the game.

“Tomorrow we have a needed – much needed – day off,” Rojas said, before the Mets play a three-game series in Miami this weekend. “We hope to have everyone fresh for Friday’s game against the Marlins.”

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