ATLANTA - Yunel Escobar had two of his four RBIs in a five-run fifth inning and the Atlanta Braves beat New York 7-1 on Sunday night as the Mets lost yet another player to an injury.
Mets starting pitcher Fernando Nieve left the game in the second inning with a strained right quadriceps.
Escobar hit his ninth homer in the second inning and had a run-scoring single in the fourth to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead. The shortstop delivered a bases-loaded two-run double in the fifth as the Braves stretched the lead to 7-1.
The fourth-place Mets fell nine games back of NL East-leading Philadelphia, their largest deficit since they were nine games out after play on Sept. 29, 2005, according to STATS LLC.
The Braves, who won three of four in the series, moved past Florida into second place in the East, 6½ games behind the surging Phillies.
Braves right-hander Javier Vazquez (7-7) gave up six hits and one run in seven innings. He walked one and struck out five, shutting down New York's paltry offense.
Since June 22, the injury-ravaged Mets have lost 15 times in 24 games and have scored just 74 runs, the fewest in the majors.
Vazquez caught Nieve's high bouncer with his right hand and threw out Nieve on a close play in the second inning. Nieve then fell to the ground, grabbing his leg in obvious pain. He was driven off the field.
Nieve, who has been filling in for John Maine, will fly with the team to Washington, where the Mets play on Monday, and then continue to New York for an MRI.
Nieve joins New York's long injury list.
Gary Sheffield did not play for the second straight game because of cramping in his right hamstring that began Friday night. Mets manager Jerry Manuel said before the game Sheffield is still sore.
The Mets are also without outfielders Carlos Beltran and Fernando Martinez, first baseman Carlos Delgado, shortstop Jose Reyes, and relievers J.J. Putz and Billy Wagner due to injuries.
Tim Redding (1-4) replaced Nieve and gave up five runs, two earned, on four hits and three walks in three innings.
Martin Prado and Casey Kotchman had RBI singles in the fifth. Chipper Jones drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.
The Mets scored their only run in the third. Luis Castillo hit a one-out single and scored on Jeff Francoeur's single.
Braves reliever Mike Gonzalez, who had been out with tendinitis in his left elbow, made his first appearance since July 9. He retired the Mets in order in the eighth. Rafael Soriano added a perfect ninth.
NOTES: Six Mets pitchers combined for eight walks. ... CF Nate McLouth set a career high with four walks. ... Braves RHP Tim Hudson allowed only one walk in two innings for Class A Myrtle Beach in his first injury rehab assignment since his elbow ligament-replacement surgery last year. Hudson is scheduled to throw three innings on Thursday.