Washington is more than pleased to say good riddance to the New York Mets, who have had the Nationals’ number all year.
The Nationals lost 12 of 19 this season to the Mets, including an 8-4 decision at home Wednesday to a team that had suffered one of the epic meltdowns in baseball history a few hours earlier.
After a ninth-inning collapse in an 11-10 loss at Nationals Park Tuesday night, the Mets bounced back Wednesday afternoon with three homers against Washington starter Anibal Sanchez.
The Nationals, who are 78-60 and in second place in the National League East, lost ground to the Braves. However, the Nationals have a chance make it up quickly as they travel to Atlanta for the first of four Thursday with the division leaders.
Sanchez lost for the first time since May 10, but gave the Mets credit for a hard-fought series.
“They have a pretty good lineup,” Sanchez said. “They are strong and they can run.”
Sanchez (8-7) gave up seven runs in five innings and allowed homers to Juan Lagares, Robinson Cano and Pete Alonso. Cano had three hits in his first game in nearly a month while rookie Alonso hit his 45th homer of the season — and seventh against Washington.
“Three mistakes,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of the homers.
The veteran right-hander Sanchez said his pitches were too elevated as the Mets took two of three in the series.
Another concern for the Nationals is lefty closer Sean Doolittle, who made his second appearance since coming off the injured list Sunday. He hit 94 miles per hour on the stadium radar, which could have elevated readings, but took a stumble on his delivery and fell to the ground in the top of the ninth.
“It scared me more than anything else,” Doolittle said. “I really don’t know what happened. I was OK; it just looked really bad.”
Doolittle watched the mishap on tape after the game. “It looks kind of funny,” said Doolittle, who allowed no runs in one inning and lowered his ERA to 4.17. “I was pretty happy with how I moved the ball around the zone.”
Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon was 2-for-5 with a double and has reached base 20 games in a row while left fielder Juan Soto had a walk and single as he wore plenty of protection on his arm after getting hit by a pitch earlier in the series.
The loss Wednesday afternoon came hours after the Nationals scored seven runs in the last of the ninth to beat the Mets for the biggest ninth-inning comeback in team history. Washington scored three in the sixth Wednesday off the hapless Mets bullpen to cut the deficit to 7-4 as Asdrubal Cabrera had an RBI single and Rendon drove in two more with a double. But the Mets’ Jeff McNeil had an RBI single in the eighth off Fernando Rodney to push the lead back to 8-4.
Mets starter and winner Zack Wheeler (10-7) struggled most of the day, but allowed just one run on seven hits in five innings.
The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the second as Trea Turner had an RBI single to drive in Gerardo Parra, who singled with two outs. Parra, playing right field in place of the injured Adam Eaton (knee), was hitting just .054 in his previous 15 games.
“They beat us pretty well,” Turner said. “We faced three tough pitchers and the bullpen made it tough on us at times as well.”
The Mets got a solo homer from Lagares off Sanchez to tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the third.
New York led 3-1 in the fourth after a two-run homer by Cano, who had dealt with a hamstring injury.
Alonso hit his homer — a solo shot in the fifth — for a 4-1 lead against Sanchez.
Stephen Strasburg (16-5, 3.47) will pitch for the Nationals Thursday against Braves lefty Max Fried (15-4, 4.05).
“Now we get to play head to head,” Martinez said.