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Morning Briefing: Magic number down to six

NEW YORK --

FIRST PITCH: And now it's Bartolo Colon's turn to try to get the New York Mets back on track … with his arm and maybe even his bat.

The Mets wrap up their first losing homestand of the season when Colon (14-12, 4.15 ERA) opposes right-hander Williams Perez (6-6, 5.16) in the 7:10 p.m. ET rubber game against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday at Citi Field.

WEDNESDAY'S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Subbing for Jacob deGrom, Logan Verrett allowed a pair of fifth-inning homers and the Mets went on to lose to the Braves, 6-2, on Tuesday. The Mets nonetheless maintained a 6½-game division lead over the Washington Nationals, who lost to the Baltimore Orioles. The Amazin's magic number is down to six. After the loss to Atlanta, manager Terry Collins said the Mets look “tight” during this homestand. Meanwhile, Tyler Clippard's struggles continued, although Collins insisted that the reliever's recently tight back is not a factor. Clippard allowed a two-run double to Adonis Garcia in the ninth that capped the scoring. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.

  • The Mets confirmed their rotation for the final road trip, and essentially for the remainder of the regular season. Matt Harvey's next abbreviated outing comes Saturday in Cincinnati. DeGrom pitches the following day.

  • Yoenis Cespedes failed to run to first base after striking out on a pitch that eluded catcher AJ Pierzynski on Tuesday. Read more on Cespedes' recent shortcomings in the Post.

  • Juan Uribe remained unavailable Tuesday with a deep chest bruise.

  • Tim Brown at Yahoo! suggests Collins has been the best manager in the National League this season, ahead of Joe Maddon, Clint Hurdle, Mike Matheny and Don Mattingly. Read more on Collins' reaction to Manager of the Year talk at MLB.com.

  • Columnist Mark Herrmann in Newsday writes that Collins has changed with the times.

  • Savannah manager Jose Leger joined the Mets staff for the remainder of the regular season.

  • Former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone is not a fan of the handling of Harvey. “I think the thing is totally asinine,” Mazzone told Bob Nightengale in USA Today. “Come on, you want him to go five innings, and maybe even less in his next starts, and then you want him to go seven, eight or nine innings in the playoffs. That's totally ridiculous. You're going to blow out your bullpen before the playoffs even start.”

  • Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post is fine with Harvey going three innings against the Reds on Saturday as long as he is ready to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series when it matters.

  • Joe Posnanski at NBCSports.com weighs in on Harvey's late-season usage.

  • Michael Conforto will continue to sit against left-handed pitching for the remainder of this year. Of course, Collins only expects the Mets will see one more southpaw starter the rest of the regular season. Read more at MLB.com.

  • Fans use their imagination and write the opening to the final game story of the Mets' 2015 season in the Times.

  • From the bloggers … Mets Report addresses who are the targets of Collins' anger. … The Kings of Queens looks ahead to facing Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the NLDS.

BIRTHDAYS: Pete Harnisch turns 49. ... Gonzalez Germen is 28.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU'RE UP: Are you having any second thoughts about whether the Mets should aggressively bid for Cespedes?