The New York Mets were riding a 7-game winning streak with ace Johan Santana on the hill against their NL East rival Braves at brand spanking new Citi Field.
On the surface, they had to like their chances.
Problem is the Braves themselves are just hitting their stride, enjoying a 5-1 road trip thus far against divisional opponents, moving Atlanta to within 1 1/2 games of first place in the East.
And, despite being arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Santana seems to play the role of hard luck loser against the Braves. Atlanta is the only one of the 28 teams he’s faced that he has not yet gotten a victory.
That trend continued Monday night.
Derek Lowe set the tone for the Braves, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 2/3 solid innings of baseball, enroute to his team’s 8-3 trouncing of the Mets.
Lowe was credited with his fourth consecutive win, improving to 5-1 on the year, while Santana dropped to 0-4 in six career starts against Atlanta.
Santana again found himself a victim of bad luck.
Despite suffering the loss, he still saw his National League best ERA drop to 0.78, allowing only two unearned runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings before watching his bullpen self-destruct.
Matt Diaz led the charge for the Braves offense, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and two hits against Santana, raising his batting average to .556 against the Mets lefty.
Yunel Escobar also had three hits on the night and Casey Kotchman hit two consecutive singles, helping the Bravos blow the game wide open.
With a win tonight, Atlanta can guarantee themselves another series win.