Max Scherzer fans 13, Harper ejected
Washington is closer to being eliminated from postseason play.
And individual milestones are also slipping away from some of the more notable Nationals, as ace pitcher Max Scherzer gave up two homers and failed to pick up an 18th win as the New York Mets beat Washington 5-4 in 12 innings.
Bryce Harper, just days from free agency, was ejected in the last of the 12th after he was called out on strikes.
Washington tied the game in the last of the eighth as rookie of the year candidate Juan Soto had an RBI double to make it 4-4. But former Washington catcher Jose Lobaton, now with the Mets, drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the 12th for New York.
Third-place Washington, now 4-10 in extra-inning games, entered Thursday seven games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
The Nationals (77-76), with only nine games left, began the night 6 games behind St. Louis for the second wild-card spot in the National League. Fangraphs.com gave the Nationals a 0.2 percent chance of making the playoffs before Thursday’s action.
Scherzer (17-7) could still make two more starts this season but his opportunity to win 20 games in a season ended on a beautiful late summer evening at Navy Yards. There were just a few hundred fans in the stands when the game ended at around 11:30 p.m.
Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon hit the 100th homer of his career, and 22nd of the season in the sixth. The two-run shot to left trimmed the Mets’ lead to 3-2.
Rendon has now reached base 28 games in a row, a personal best and the longest active streak in the majors. He drove in a run with a groundout in the eighth to pull Washington to within 4-3.
The Mets got on the board as Scherzer allowed a single to his counterpart, Mets pitcher Jason Vargas, to lead off the third and with two outs Michael Conforto crushed a two-run homer to left to make it 2-0.
The next batter was also a lefty, Jay Bruce, and he hammered a pitch to center field for a solo homer and a 3-0 advantage.
After the Rendon homer, Bruce had an RBI single off Matt Grace in the eighth as the Mets grabbed a 4-2 lead.
Scherzer did reach one standard Thursday, as he struck out 13 hitters to give him 290 for the season. That is a personal best and Nationals record, surpassing the 284 strikeouts he had two years ago.
But with the loss, Scherzer lowered his chances of winning a third straight Cy Young Award, as his ERA rose to 2.57 after giving up three runs in seven innings.
Another Cy Young candidate, Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom (8-9, 1.78), is scheduled to pitch against the Nationals on Friday night.
Harper is also in range for some personal milestones: he is three shy of 100 for runs and RBI.
Harper drew his sixth walk in a row in the first. He had a chance to tie the big league record with seven but he reached on a fielder’ choice in the third.
Harper and his teammates were held in check by Vargas, who entered the game with an ERA of 6.47 this season. Vargas gave up just two runs before Seth Lugo took over in the sixth.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway was ejected for arguing strike calls in the top of the 10th inning.
NOTES: Trea Turner started again at short and has played in every game this year for the Nationals. “I mean, got this far, so might as well,” Turner told reporters. “Obviously barring injury, but I’d rather just complete it to say I did it. I think that would be pretty cool.” ... Joe Ross (0-0, 3.60) is scheduled to start Friday for Washington ... It was U.S. Air Force Day at Nationals Park.