MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nats drop Game 1 to Mets in quest for best record

Treinen gives up four runs in 4 1/3; NY gets to Clippard in eighth

Nats drop Game 1 to Mets in quest for best record

WASHINGTON -- Although they won the National League East title more than a week ago, the Nationals are playing for the NL's best record and home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

Washington is still just short of reaching that goal -- with a magic number of 2 -- as it lost to the Mets, 7-4, on Thursday afternoon in the first game of a split doubleheader at Nationals Park. The Nationals (92-65) are battling the Dodgers (91-68) for the top spot.

"It's important [to have the best record]," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "It's something to play for these last few games. We try to win every game. Having the best record would be great. You obviously want to stay here [at Nationals Park when the postseason starts]. ... Having [home-field advantage] throughout the entire [NL] playoffs is important."

The game was tied at 4 in the eighth inning when New York scored the go-ahead runs against reliever Tyler Clippard. With two outs and a runner on second, Matt den Dekker singled to left field, scoring Eric Young Jr. den Dekker would advance to second on the throw by left fielder Bryce Harper.

Wilmer Flores followed and reached base on an infield single to third baseman Kevin Frandsen, while den Dekker scored from second to make it a two-run game.

The Mets added one more run in the ninth, when Ruben Tejada singled to right field off right-hander Ryan Mattheus, scoring Granderson.

Nationals manager Matt Williams opted to start most of his bench players and call on right-hander Blake Treinen to make a spot start. The game did not begin in Washington's favor, as New York took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Curtis Granderson.

Treinen lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs. It was pretty clear that Treinen wasn't happy with his performance on the mound.

"I felt fine. The fastballs were up in the zone. I didn't make pitches when I needed to. I put the team in some tough situations," Treinen said.

Ryan Zimmerman started his first game at Nationals Park since July 20, and his right hamstring was tested almost right away. He led off the fourth inning and singled to right field. Then Zimmerman coasted to third on a single by Adam LaRoche and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ian Desmond to tie the score at 1.

"He looked like he was moving better," Williams said about Zimmerman. "It was less thinking about it, which is exactly what we want. We just want him to be able to react out there. Everything was fine today."

Williams didn't announce when Zimmerman would play again. He was not in the starting lineup of the second game of the doubleheader, but he will likely play in one of the two games Friday against the Marlins.

Zimmerman said the hamstring is not 100 percent, but he feels OK to do certain things.

"I'm sort of learning what I have and I don't have," Zimmerman said. "The only thing to do is go out and play."

Washington tied the score at 4 in the bottom of the fifth inning off New York starter Dillon Gee. Nate Schierholtz's pinch-hit single drove in Jose Lobaton, while Michael Taylor drove in two more runs with a single to left.

Left-hander Jerry Blevins was a player the Mets couldn't touch on Thursday. He pitched two shutout innings and struck out five batters. In his last four games, Blevins hasn't allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts. It might help him make the postseason roster next week.

"I think the ball is sinking a little bit. [Blevins] is able to pinpoint away from the righties, and his curveball has been good against left-handers," Williams said. "… He threw a lot of pitches today, but it's set up good for him with four consecutive lefties in there that he could go multiple innings for us. He pitched really well."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He can also be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.