NEW YORK — Center fielder Ender Inciarte robbed Yoenis Cespedes of a game-winning homer for the final out, and the New York Mets were handed another costly defeat by last-place Atlanta when the Braves rallied for a 4-3 victory Wednesday night.
With two runners on in the bottom of the ninth inning, Cespedes launched a drive to deep right-center. Inciarte raced a long way to the wall and timed his jump perfectly, catching the ball just above the orange line atop the fence.
He held up his glove in excitement as Cespedes turned and walked slowly off the field. Some fans in the stunned crowd of 32,187 at Citi Field still had their hands on their heads as they filed up the aisles toward the exits.
New York remained tied with St. Louis in the NL wild-card race, a half-game behind the Giants pending San Francisco's late game at Dodger Stadium. The teams began the day in a three-way tie for the league's final two playoff spots.
Bartolo Colon and Jeurys Familia failed to protect a three-run lead for the Mets in a late-season thriller. An error by normally sure-handed first baseman James Loney helped Atlanta tie the game with an unearned run in the eighth.
Inciarte had an RBI groundout against Familia (3-4) in the top of the ninth, sending the feisty Braves to their fifth straight victory. They completed their second consecutive three-game sweep at Citi Field, including one in June.
Ian Krol (2-0) struck out pinch-hitter Kevin Plawecki with the bases loaded to end the eighth — moments after Cespedes nearly put New York ahead. His high fly to deep left field was knocked down by a leaping Matt Kemp at the top of the fence, with ball glancing off Kemp's glove and dropping to the ground for a double.
Cespedes thought he had a go-ahead homer — he tossed his bat aside and started to trot before digging for second when the ball stayed in play.
Jim Johnson got three outs for his 17th save.
Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to a career-best 25 games and has reached base safely in 41 straight for Atlanta.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Rene Rivera homered for the Mets to help them build a 3-0 lead.
Seeking a five-out save from his All-Star closer, Mets manager Terry Collins turned to Familia with two runners on. But the Braves surprised New York with a double steal on Familia's second pitch, and Kemp made it 3-all with a sacrifice fly.
Colon carried a three-hit shutout into the seventh before ex-Met Anthony Recker started Atlanta's comeback with a two-run homer.
In a funny scene, a confused Recker paused his trot between second and third and held out his hand, unsure why teammate Nick Markakis had stopped at third. Markakis apparently didn't realize the ball cleared the fence on the fly at first. Finally, both players crossed the plate and Recker patted Markakis on the helmet.
Jose Reyes walked and Cabrera homered into the second deck in right field, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead after eight pitches from Braves rookie Ryan Weber in his second major league start this season.
It was Cabrera's 21st home run this season and 20th while playing shortstop, breaking Reyes' club record.
Rivera went deep in the fifth against Weber, who lasted five innings.
Steven Matz threw a full bullpen session, sprinted in the outfield and took batting practice in a cage near the Mets clubhouse Wednesday afternoon. All he must do to be officially named the starter for Friday night's game against the Phillies is to wake up Thursday without unusual soreness.