The Braves quickly turned a nine-game winning streak into a four-game losing streak and were in danger of getting swept out of Flushing to close out a four-game series against the Mets. Despite the recent woes, the Braves entered play Thursday only a game back of Washington for the lead in the NL East.

As ryan crecently noted in the comments, the success during the winning streak had less to do with an offensive renaissance than consistently good starting pitching. As he noted, the team OBP remained virtually unchanged since the batting order was shaken up by manager Fredi Gonzalez. If the losing streak has demonstrated anything, it’s the team’s reliance on its arms. The offense simply isn’t consistent or dangerous enough to rescue an even mediocre start on the hill. During the four game losing streak, the Braves scored a total of eight runs, with no home runs, and no more than three runs crossing the plate in any single game.

While the Braves were all sorts of hot garbage in the first three games in Flushing, the team looked to Aaron Harang to help right the ship. The Mets countered with noted CrossFit enthusiast Bartolo Colon. The Braves struck early, putting two runs on the board in the top of the first, including an RBI double from Freddie Freeman and an RBI single from Jason Heyward.

The Braves had a chance to add to the lead in the second, but epic bunt failure by Harang lead to a killer double play which saw Christian Bethancourt get caught in a run down. (The inability to execute a bunt in the fourth inning would lead Joe Simpson to question his sanity and the meaning of life on the television broadcast. Joe would go all-in on his “Old Man Yells At Cloud” routine by telling some kids on cellphones in the stands to get off his lawn in the fifth inning.)

The Braves extended their lead to 3-0 in the third after consecutive singles by Andrelton Simmons and Freddie Freeman, followed by a ground out by Justin Upton. The Mets made the game 3-1 in the bottom half of the inning with a David Wright single that scored Eric Young, Jr., batting in the ninth slot of the New York lineup. Hibernation Mode would set in, and the game would end 3-1 with the Braves collecting their 50th win of the 2014 season.

Harang had a much needed quality start for the Braves, escaping the most trouble he faced in the fifth. He ended the night completing seven innings and allowing one run, yet walked four compared to two strikeouts. Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel pitched in relief to secure the win. In addition, the offense managed to string together hits when needed early in the game. The team ended the night with 10 hits, including multi-hit games from Simmons, Ramiro Pena (in at 3rd base), and Freeman.

The Nationals lost to the Orioles. Let’s head to Chicago, win some day games, and walk into the break with a lead in the NL East. The Mets are the worst.