WASHINGTON -- The way the Mets' season has gone, maybe they saw a remarkable comeback in the offing. But the Nationals and their fans had every right to be stunned as New York rallied from six runs down to beat Washington, 8-7, at Nationals Park on Tuesday night. And even the Mets had to admit that this one stood out.
With the victory, the Mets are now six games ahead of the Nationals in the National League East race with four head-to-head games remaining between the rivals.
"I thought yesterday was pretty good," third baseman David Wright said. "Today was amazing."
The Nationals had a 7-1 lead entering the seventh inning after tagging Matt Harvey for seven runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. But the bullpen had a meltdown, lost the lead and eventually the game. The Nationals had to use three relievers -- Blake Treinen, Felipe Rivero and Drew Storen -- in the seventh inning as the Mets scored six runs. Yoenis Cespedes made up for an error an inning earlier with a three-run double off Storen that drew the Mets within one, 7-6. Three successive walks then tied it at 7.
An inning later, Jonathan Papelbon allowed the game-winning home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. In all, Washington relievers pitched 3 1/3 innings, allowed seven runs and walked six batters.
Jordan Zimmermann started for the Nationals and allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings. The one run was scored in the second inning, when David Wright hit a monster home run over the left-field wall. The ball traveled a projected 410 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™.
It was all Nats after that up until the seventh. Their biggest inning was in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Michael Taylor singled up the middle. Next thing you know, Taylor had what you call a Little League home run. Four runs scored because the ball hit by Taylor went by center fielder Cespedes for an error.
"I'm not going to sugarcoat it. This one stinks," Robinson said. "I felt we were in control there. We took a 7-1 lead. We just didn't find a way to hold it. We have to find a way to win those ballgames."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Kirk comes through: Half an inning after tying the game at seven, the Mets took their first lead of the night when Nieuwenhuis launched the first pinch-hit homer of his career into the right-center-field seats. All three of Nieuwenhuis' previous homers this season had come in the same game. More >
Late rally goes for naught: The Nationals had a chance to at least tie the game in the ninth inning against closer Jeurys Familia. After Jayson Werth led off with a single, Rendon tried to advance Werth with a bunt. Instead, on a 3-1 count, he bunted into a fielder's choice at second base. More >
"[Rendon] bunted too hard. We had a chance to get Jayson on second base with our best hitters coming to the plate and it didn't work," Williams said.
Storen's meltdown: Entering the seventh with a six-run lead, the Nationals gave everything back during a six-run, six-walk, three-hit rally, almost all of it occurring with two outs. Storen was responsible for the heaviest damage, serving up Cespedes' three-run double after the Mets loaded the bases against Treinen and Rivero. Storen then re-loaded them on two walks and a hit, before walking in the tying run. More >
"There is good times and there's bad times. The bad times, they need support and that's part of my job," Williams said. "I have confidence in every one of those guys in that room. Tonight wasn't their night, but I have confidence in them. Our coaching staff has confidence in them. So we have to prepare for tomorrow."
"When you are up, 7-1, you expect to win a ballgame. [The Mets] popped back, they had some good at-bats. There is nothing you can do about it now." -- Harper, on the Mets' comeback.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Mets overcame a six-run deficit for the first time since 2011, doing so in the seventh inning or later for the first time since 2001.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets:Jacob deGrom, who has quietly fallen back to earth with a 6.75 ERA in his last three outings, will take the mound for Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. ET finale at Nationals Park. Given Harvey's innings restrictions, a strong September for deGrom has taken on increased importance.
Nationals: Right-hander Stephen Strasburg is pitching for the first time since Aug. 30. He missed a turn because of back tightness. Strasburg is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA since the All-Star break.