NEW YORK — The start of April has been a lot like the end of September for the Atlanta Braves.
For six innings, Sunday’s series finale against the New York Mets resembled the first two games. After falling behind by seven runs, the Braves finally got their offense going late but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 7-5 loss.
Atlanta is 0-3 for the first time since opening against Montreal in 2003 and only the second time since losing its first 10 games in 1988.
“It’s never good to come into the season and get swept,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said. “Nobody in here is thinking about last year.”
The Braves had a 10½-game lead over St. Louis for the NL wild card in late August last year but went 9-18 in September and were eliminated on the final night of the regular season.
In the series against the Mets, the Braves hit .151 with seven runs and 14 hits.
“We’re fine,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Four or five of those hits together, and we’ll be fine.”
Mike Minor (0-1), who impressed the Braves by throwing 14 consecutive scoreless innings in his first four spring training starts, gave up six runs, six hits and four walks in five-plus innings.
“I felt good. One little hiccup that just kept on escalating,” Minor said. “It’s early. There’s plenty of season, plenty of games left.”
Overpowering the Braves with a fastball that reached 93 mph, Jonathon Niese (1-0) benefited early from the wide strike zone of plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, who called out Michael Bourn and Martin Prado on strikes as Niese fanned the side in the third.
McCann didn’t think the strike zone was as big for Minor.
“There were some very close calls that didn’t go his way,” he said.
Niese took a no-hit bid into the seventh and retired 15 consecutive batters before Dan Uggla walked on 10 pitches and Freddie Freeman singled cleanly to right. Niese allowed only two balls out of the infield through six innings. Freeman singled on his 99th pitch.