Nats fall to Mets, division title hopes near end

September 22, 2018

The Nationals are not doing any favors for teammate Max Scherzer, trying to win his third Cy Young Award in a row.

Washington could muster just one run on three hits against Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom, another Cy Young candidate, and lost 4-2 on Friday night at Nationals Park before a crowd of 37,895.

That came one night after Scherzer allowed three runs in seven innings while not figuring in the decision against the Mets.

The Nationals (now 77-77) entered the game with a “tragic number” of two that meant any combination of Washington losses and Atlanta wins totally two knocked the defending division champions out of winning the NL East.

The first-place Braves hosted the second-place Phillies in a game that began about 30 minutes after the Nationals game. Washington now has eight games left, including the next five at home.

The Nationals began the night with a “tragic number” of three for a wild card spot. That would be any combination of three Washington losses or St. Louis wins that would end Washington’s longshot playoff hopes.

Washington has won the previous two division titles, winning at least 95 games each season.

Mets ace deGrom (9-9) recorded his 24th straight quality start, a big league record. A quality starts consists of pitching at least six innings and allowing three earned runs or less.

He went seven innings and struck out eight and helped himself with several nice fielding plays.

The right-hander entered the game with an ERA of 1.78. It was the 28th straight game in a row deGrom allowed three runs or less, a big league record for one season.

The Mets scored three runs off Nationals starter Joe Ross in the third to take a 4-1 lead. Jay Bruce had an RBI double, Dominic Smith drove in a run with a single and Devin Mesoraco also delivered a run-scoring double.

The Nationals had tied the game at 1 in the last of the second as Ryan Zimmerman had a sacrifice fly to score Anthony Rendon, who had walked.

Bruce had a bloop single to left to drive in Amed Rosario, who had doubled as Victor Robles misplayed the ball, to give the Mets a 1-0 lead in the first.

Ross, in his second official start of the year, allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings before Tim Collins took over in the seventh.

Trea Turner led off the last of the ninth with a double and Bryce Harper was retired on a fly ball to deep left. Mets reliever Robert Gsellman then gave up an RBI single to Anthony Rendon to make it 4-2. Juan Soto struck out and Ryan Zimmerman flew out to end the game.

Robles, one of the top prospects for the Nationals, started in center for the second night in a row. Veteran right fielder Adam Eaton has been hobbled by a bum knee, so Harper made the start again in right field.

Robles struck out in the last of the 11th inning Thursday with the winning run on third. The Nationals lost in 12 innings to the Mets.

“Yesterday a situation arose where he could’ve won the game,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters. “I know it’s a big moment for him, and he’s young. He needs to learn what he can and what he can’t do in those moments. But so far I really love what I see out of him. He loves to play.”

NOTES: The third contest in the four-game series will be Saturday at 4:05 p.m. ... The Nationals bullpen had allowed 75 homers, second-most in the National League through Thursday to the 80 allowed by the Mets ... Washington began the day with an ERA of 4.28 in the ninth or later 13th in the league and had allowed 19 homers in such scenarios.

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