Zambrano, Mets toss away Atlanta series

New York Mets Notes and Quotes for Thursday, May 26: Victor Zambrano's error throws the Mets into a series sweep; Willie Randolph defends his decisions with Cliff Floyd; Victor Diaz could be on the way back to the bigs...

Last Game: Braves 3, Mets 0. Victor Zambrano held Atlanta to three runs - one earned - over six innings Friday, but even that one run would have been enough to doom the Mets to a series sweep.

21-year-old rookie Kyle Davies and three Braves relievers combined to keep the visiting bats silent, frustrating New York by stranding seven runners aboard – low-lighted by a bases-loaded Jose Reyes double play on the first pitch he saw in the seventh – as the Mets' losing skid reached four.

Two of the three runs off Zambrano came on a throwing error in the sixth inning, when the righthander fired wide of the third base bag on a potential force play, whipping a Pete Orr dribbler past the reach of David Wright. Rafael Furcal tacked on a run-scoring single to finish the Braves' scoring.

The defeat left the Mets (23-24) a game below .500 for the first time since May 3, when they dropped a 10-3 decision to the Philadelphia Phillies to fall to 13-14.

New York is five games behind the NL East-leading Florida Marlins, who welcome the Mets to town for a four-game series Thursday night.

Notes, Quotes

Cliff Floyd
TOUGH TIMES: Cliff Floyd has seen his average skid from .391 to .272 since taking a day off on May 4.
WASN'T ME: In his pre-game session with reporters Wednesday, Mets manager Willie Randolph made sure to shoot down the idea that an ill-timed day off sent Cliff Floyd spiraling into a slump.

Floyd was riding a 20-game hitting streak when Randolph issued the outfielder a day off on May 4 against Philadelphia. He took an 0-for-4 the next night and now has just seven hits in his last 64 at-bats, dropping his average from .391 to .272.

Randolph was reportedly irked by suggestions in print and on TV that it was the day off that turned Floyd ice-cold. He defended the move Wednesday, citing Floyd's sore legs at the time.

"According to certain people, I put him in a slump because I sat him down," Randolph told reporters. "Just so everybody knows, just to make it official because you guys run with (stuff) all the time, I didn't sit him down."

DIAZ TO RETURN?: The New York Daily News' Adam Rubin speculates Thursday that outfielder Victor Diaz could be headed back to the big leagues, with Carlos Beltran having been limited to just one pinch-hit at-bat since Saturday's game.

Diaz is hitting .200 with two home runs and five RBI in seven games at Triple-A Norfolk since his demotion last week, and will have spent 10 days in the minor leagues after Thursday's action.

Beltran, who has been sidelined with a strained right quad, batted for Doug Mientkiewicz in the seventh inning Wednesday and flew out to center field.

MANUEL ON MANAGING: Mets first base coach Jerry Manuel confirmed to the New York Daily News that he is a finalist for the Kansas City Royals' managerial vacancy, and will interview for the position Friday. Former Mets manager Art Howe is also reportedly in the running.

On Deck

The Mets were all too happy to escape their personal house of horrors – otherwise known as Atlanta's Turner Field – and can now try to get another winning streak rolling in the relative hospitality of Miami and the Marlins.

Kris Benson (2-1, 3.70) gets the assignment Thursday night, taking on veteran journeyman Frank Castillo (no record) in his first appearance on the big league level this season. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.

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