ATLANTA — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons and the Atlanta Braves are running out of time and patience.
“You’ve got to take it one at-bat at a time, one play at a time and hope for the best,” Simmons said after getting three of the Braves’ five hits in a 5-0 loss to the New York Mets on Sept. 19.
“But it’s really frustrating right now,” he added.
With their offensive woes showing no signs of a turnaround, the Braves were beaten by Zack Wheeler and the Mets.
Atlanta dropped seven games behind Pittsburgh, a 4-2 winner over Milwaukee, in the NL wild-card race. Any combination of three Pirates wins or Braves losses will eliminate the Atlanta from playoff contention.
The Braves dropped to 8-50 when scoring two runs or fewer.
Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer, and Wheeler pitched six scoreless innings for the Mets. Pittsburgh’s victory eliminated New York from postseason contention.
The Braves, losers of six of seven, dropped to 4-12 this month. They won the NL East last year, but were eliminated from the division race on Sept. 16 when Washington celebrated at Turner Field.
“You’ve got to keep playing and keep hanging on,” Manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “(The players) know, and I don’t think you need to remind anybody what’s at stake and what we could accomplish if we start winning games and start swinging the bats.”
Wheeler (11-10) allowed five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. The Georgia native improved to 6-1 with a 1.92 ERA in 13 road starts, dating to May 29.
Wheeler worked out of a jam in the fifth inning. He gave up a two-out double to Simmons and walked Freddie Freeman before striking out Justin Upton with a pitch in the dirt.
“I got in a lot of deep counts but I did make the pitches when I had to,” Wheeler said. “I had to really bear down and really go after them. That’s a tough lineup right there.”
Daniel Murphy went 4-for-5 and scored on Duda’s homer in the sixth. Murphy was hitting just .188 in 32 at-bats since returning from the disabled list on Sept. 9.
Julio Teheran (13-13) pitched out of trouble in the fifth when Dilson Herrera popped up with runners on first and third, and Wheeler struck out.
After Murphy’s ground-rule double in the sixth, Duda hit a low breaking ball into the right-field seats for his 28th homer, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. Duda had struck out in his previous two at-bats.
Teheran gave up seven hits, two runs and struck out six in seven innings. He dropped to 0-4 with a 2.67 ERA in September.
“I made just one mistake that cost me two runs and cost us the game,” Teheran said. “That’s part of the luck that I have. You try not to let it affect you, but it’s kind of difficult for us right now.”
Carlos Torres pitched the seventh, Jeurys Familia worked the eighth, and Buddy Carlyle finished in the ninth for New York.
In the ninth, Herrera drew a bases-loaded walk from Jordan Walden to make it 3-0, and Eric Young Jr. added a two-run single off Luis Avilan for a 5-0 lead.