Thomson allows just one run in seven innings

ATLANTA (AP) -- After dropping to 0-4 for the first time in 41 years, the New York Mets would rather look ahead.

"We are where we are," first-year manager Willie Randolph said after Friday night's 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. "We'll try to win the next two here and go home and get hot ... and show the fans what kind of team we really are."

With Braves starter John Thomson allowing only one run in seven innings, the only Mets baserunner to advance past second base was

Mike Piazza, who hit his first home run in the fourth inning.

"Very rarely this early in the season is a pitcher going to have all four pitches working, but tonight he did," Braves catcher

Johnny Estrada said. "I felt like we could go to anything all game."

In the Mets' only at-bat with a runner in scoring position, Kaz Matsui struck out to end the eighth inning with Jose Reyes on second base.

The lack of timely hitting, four walks by Mets starter Victor Zambrano and sloppy fielding kept the Mets behind after the Braves scored two runs in the first inning of their home opener.

"We have to hit the ball better, do the little things, and it will turn," Randolph said. "We've got to grind it out tomorrow. Stay positive, man, that's what I've got to be. I'm not a gloom and doom guy."

The Mets, who have the NL's highest payroll at $105 million, lost their first four games for the first time since 1964, when the franchise was only in its third year and the Braves were based in Milwaukee.

"Obviously, I know we're not pleased, but you can't feel sorry for yourself when nobody else is," Doug Mientkiewicz said. "We'll get some breaks eventually. ... We get a couple guys on and start pressing people, we'll be all right."

The Mets are hitting .289, compared to the .213 average of the 3-1 Braves, who have won three straight since an Opening Day loss, despite scoring just nine runs on the season.

"We're getting good pitching, good defense, and the hitting will come," said Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Thomson (1-0) gave up eight hits but didn't walk a batter. Roman Colon stranded Jose Reyes at second base after a single and steal in the eighth inning and Danny Kolb pitched the ninth for his third save in three chances.

"Obviously, it's not a good start for us," Piazza said. "We'll win some games. ... You have to stay positive. ... Obviously, we can play better than this."

Zambrano (0-1) allowed two runs on five hits and four walks in five innings but was hurt by sloppy fielding.

In the first inning, Marcus Giles stole second after he was hit by a pitch. After a walk to Andruw Jones, Giles scored when Adam LaRoche hit a sharp grounder that bounced off Matsui's glove at second base and into center field for a single.

Jones later scored from second without a throw to the plate when left fielder Cliff Floyd could not cleanly field Estrada's single, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead. Floyd ended the inning with a strong defensive play, leaping to make a running catch at the warning track of a drive by Raul Mondesi.

Mondesi stranded seven baserunners in his first three at-bats, including a bases-loaded strikeout to end the fifth inning. Zambrano issued two walks in the inning after a leadoff single by Giles, but Mondesi fell to 1-for-14 in his career against the right-hander with the strikeout.

The Braves made it 3-1 in the seventh when pinch-hitter Julio Franco singled off Dae-Sung Koo. With Giles on second base after a leadoff double off Manny Aybar, Franco drilled a run-scoring single up the middle.

Game notes
Giles returned to Atlanta's lineup just three days after a knee injury that originally appeared that it would keep him out for weeks or months. He has a deep bone bruise on his left knee. ... Zambrano made an awkward throw and took a tumble after trying to throw out Brian Jordan on an infield hit in the second inning. Zambrano took a few practice throws and remained in the game. ... With 379 career homers, Piazza is tied for 52nd place on the career list with Tony Perez and Orlando Cepeda. ... Estrada threw out two baserunners trying to steal second base -- Reyes in the first inning

and Floyd in the seventh. Reyes stole second without a throw in the eighth inning.