WASHINGTON -- The Nationals, looking for some breathing room in the National League East race on Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park, were able widen their lead to three games by edging the Mets, 4-3, thanks to Michael Taylor, who drove in two key runs in the eighth inning.
The Nationals were down, 3-1, in the bottom of the eighth when they scored three runs off reliever Bobby Parnell. Taylor tied the score with a two-run single, then Danny Espinosa drove in the go-ahead run with a single to left, scoring Taylor.
"When he gets in those situations, he's not looking for a three-run homer, he is just looking for a base hit," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Taylor. "He has been able to improve this year, to feel his way through during his first real stint in the big leagues. He has played well."
The Nationals forced Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard throw a lot of pitches (98) over five innings but could only score one run off him, in the fourth inning, when Ian Desmond scored on a Taylor single.
Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was cruising until the Mets scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kirk Nieuwenhuis highlighted the scoring with a two-run double, and he later scored on a single by Kevin Plawecki.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Three in the eighth: Parnell's critical mistake may have been throwing the wild pitch that moved Desmond and Matt den Dekker into scoring position with two outs in the eighth. Taylor, who was batting at the time, followed with his game-tying two-run single to left. Moments later, Espinosa gave the Nationals their first lead of the afternoon with an RBI double.
"Michael came up with a big hit, and then Danny as well. Danny stayed on the baseball and hit it the other way," Williams said. "It was a good comeback for us." More >
Clutch Kirk: Starting a second straight game in left field with Michael Cuddyer nursing a sore left knee, Nieuwenhuis ripped a two-out, two-run double off Zimmermann in the fourth inning to give the Mets an early lead. One batter later, Plawecki padded the margin with an RBI single, scoring Nieuwenhuis.
J-Zimm has one bad inning: Zimmermann pitched seven innings for the 10th time this season, but the fourth inning proved costly, as he allowed three runs on four hits.
"The fourth inning, I gave up a couple of base hits," Zimmermann said. "I hung a backdoor curveball to Nieuwenhuis, who hit it for a double. And then a broken-bat hit. Next thing you know, there's three runs on the board."
Dodging trouble: Hardly efficient, Syndergaard gave up five hits and five walks in five innings, but he allowed only one of those batters to score. Syndergaard escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning and a two-on, two-out jam in the third before caving for his lone run on Taylor's RBI single in the fourth.
"I knew this was a huge game coming into the series," Syndergaard said. "I'm pretty disappointed with the way I threw. Five walks can't really happen in the big leagues. But I was able to throw some pretty big pitches in some big situations to get some outs." More >
"It's a win for us, just like any other ones. The fact that we get a chance to comeback in a game like that shows us that we don't give up. We create opportunities for ourselves, then we could come through." -- Williams
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the fifth inning,Daniel Murphy singled to right field, advancing Juan Lagares to third base, but Williams claimed that Lagares was tagged out after his foot came off the bag. Williams challenged, and after a review, the call on the field stood.
Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar left the game in the second inning after injuring his left wrist on a check swing. An X-ray was negative; he is going to be sent for further tests. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: The Mets' brutal stretch of schedule continues on Thursday, when they return home for the first of four games against the first-place Dodgers at Citi Field. Bartolo Colon, who has a 6.18 ERA over his last five starts, will start Thursday's 7:10 p.m. ET series opener opposite Clayton Kershaw. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner hasn't given up a run since the Mets touched him for one on July 3 in Los Angeles, 20 innings ago.
Nationals: The Nationals travel to Pittsburgh to play a four-game series against the Pirates starting Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. ET. The last time these two teams met was last month at Nationals Park with the Nationals sweeping the three-game series. Right Doug Fister will make the start Thursday. He is looking to win his fourth game of the season.