WASHINGTON (AP) — Still striving for their first win of the season, the Washington Nationals blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning and were locked in a tie game when Trea Turner came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez seemingly knew what was coming, so he didn’t bother to look.
Turner hit a drive into the left-field seats, his second home run of the game, to carry Washington past the New York Mets 6-5 on Sunday.
“Actually, I didn’t even watch it,” Martinez said. “I said, ‘I’m not going to watch, and when this ball goes over the wall we’ll all celebrate.’ And that’s how it went down.”
Turner earlier hit a three-run homer and also scored in the fifth to put Washington up 4-1. The Nationals let a 5-2 lead evaporate in the eighth before Turner ended it with a drive off Justin Wilson (1-1) that landed in the second row.
“It wasn’t the way we scripted it, but we’ll take it,” Martinez said.
Left-hander Patrick Corbin gave up two runs, seven hits and two walks over six innings in his Washington debut.
After losing twice to New York, the Nationals avoided being swept in an opening series for the first time in a decade.
“I was thinking, we finally got our first win,” Turner said. “We played pretty decent at times in the last three days, but to finally close one out was good.”
Mets manager Mickey Callaway went through four pitchers before going to Wilson, who worked the eighth and got one out in the ninth before Turner connected on a 3-2 pitch.
“I knew there was a chance I would be in there late, with who had been used and stuff like that,” Wilson said. “All I say is, good job by Trea and missed location by me.”
During the postgame interview Turner deftly avoided the traditional Gatorade bath, which would have been downright chilling on a windy, raw day.
“It’s way too cold,” he said. “As you guys know, I’m a baby when it comes to cold.”
Sean Doolittle (1-0) got the win despite allowing successive RBI singles in the New York eighth.
Corbin spent six seasons in Arizona before signing a $140 million, six-year deal with the Nationals, who hope he can fill out a rotation centered around stars Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
The starting rotation won’t matter if the bullpen can’t deliver. After giving up seven runs in two innings on Saturday, Washington relievers frittered away a three-run cushion in the eighth.
Tony Sipp allowed two hits, Trevor Rosenthal yielded a run-scoring single to Amed Rosario, and pinch-hitters Wilson Ramos and Juan Lagares hit two-out RBI singles off Doolittle to tie it.
That enabled Mets starter Zack Wheeler to avoid taking the loss. He gave up four runs in five innings.
The Mets were bidding to go 3-0 for the first time since 2012, when they won their first four games. They’ll settle for 2-1.
“Any series win is great,” Wilson said. “We came in here and did that.”
With the score 4-1 in the sixth, New York opened with successive singles to put runners on the corners. Nationals second baseman Brian Dozier subsequently snagged Rosario’s grounder up the middle and made a backhand flip to Turner to start a 4-6-3 double play .
Bryce Harper returns to Washington on Tuesday with his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies.
“I haven’t talked to him since he signed but hopefully the fans go crazy for him because he did a lot for us here and he had a good career here,” Turner said. “Now we’ve got to get him out. So it begins, I guess.”
Harper played seven years in Washington before signing a 13-year, $330 million contract with Philadelphia.
Mets: RHP Seth Lugo was unavailable after throwing 41 pitches Saturday. ... 3B-LF Jeff McNeil, a left-handed hitter, was not in the starting lineup against Corbin after getting four hits Saturday. McNeil entered in the seventh inning.
Nationals: Rosenthal pitched one day after returning from Tommy John surgery Saturday in his first appearance since August 2017. He threw only one pitch, and still hasn’t retired a batter this season.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz makes his 2019 debut Monday in the opener of a three-game series against the Marlins. Matz has won his last three starts in Miami.
Nationals: Scherzer (0-1, 2.35 ERA) faces the Phillies on Tuesday, giving him two starts in Washington’s first four games.