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Voth scuffles in debut as Nats dip below .500

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

NEW YORK -- Austin Voth has spent a sizeable chunk of his season on tarmacs and in terminals, shuttling back and forth between the big leagues and Triple-A Syracuse. Such is the life of an optionable arm, circa 2018. But Voth's travels came with a twist: Despite three stints with the big club, he'd yet to appear in a game.

"I'd been waiting for this moment for a while," Voth said. "This last time I basically told [my family], unless I'm starting, you guys are staying home."

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NEW YORK -- Austin Voth has spent a sizeable chunk of his season on tarmacs and in terminals, shuttling back and forth between the big leagues and Triple-A Syracuse. Such is the life of an optionable arm, circa 2018. But Voth's travels came with a twist: Despite three stints with the big club, he'd yet to appear in a game.

"I'd been waiting for this moment for a while," Voth said. "This last time I basically told [my family], unless I'm starting, you guys are staying home."

View Full Game Coverage

That all changed Saturday, when Voth made his long-awaited MLB debut in front of a gaggle of family and friends who ventured with him to Citi Field. They witnessed the right-hander match some dubious history. The seven earned runs Voth allowed in what ended as a 7-4 loss to the Mets marked the most surrendered by a big league pitcher this season in his debut. Only Erick Fedde, who debuted last July, had allowed that many in his first game since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005.

"It's a lesson learned for him," Nats manager Dave Martinez said. "Failure is not a bad thing all the time. Just learn from it. Next time you have an opportunity, be ready."

Video: WSH@NYM: Harper lines an RBI single into right-center

Whether Voth will get another chance in the immediate future is less clear. That's largely dependant on the health of Stephen Strasburg, who is set to test his balky right shoulder in a second rehab start on Sunday. If he completes that without issue, Strasburg could return to a Nats rotation -- which has struggled in his absence -- as early as Friday. Nats starters own a 6.34 ERA since Strasburg landed on the DL on June 10. Washington has lost 22 of those 31 games. Saturday's defeat dropped them below .500 for just the second time since early May.

"Scoring first is key," Martinez said. "It seems like we're always playing from behind."

Video: WSH@NYM: Rendon brings home Eaton with a forceout

Indeed, the Nats were down three by the time Adam Eaton scraped their first hit off winning pitcher Zack Wheeler in the third, but they didn't score until after Voth "ran out of gas" in the fifth, when he walked two ahead of Michael Conforto's three-run homer, which all but put the game away.

"It's been crazy over the last week, just the anticipation," Voth said. "I'm glad I got through it. .... There are some things I need to improve on to pitch at this level."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The trajectory of Voth's day altered over the course of two high bounces in the second, when Jose Reyes chopped a 2-1 fastball off the plate. Voth sprang from the mound to field it but was slow in firing to first. Reyes reached safely, setting up a bases-loaded, no-out situation, from which the Mets cashed in their first three runs.

Video: WSH@NYM: Rosario lines an opposite-field RBI single

SOUND SMART
Saturday marked the Nationals' 95th game of the year. It is the latest point in the season they've sported a sub-.500 record since 2015, when the team went 60-61 through its first 121 contests. Washington entered that campaign with World Series aspirations but finished 83-79, seven games behind the Mets in the National League East.

HE SAID IT
"When we get [Ryan] Zimmerman back and we get Strasburg back, that's definitely going to help us. … Missing that leadership has been big for us. When those guys go in and get it done, you don't want to be the guy who doesn't." -- Eaton, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored

GOING, GOING, GONE?
A crew-chief review was necessary to confirm Matt Adams' two-run homer cleared the orange line atop the right-field wall in the eighth. Following a 48-second review, umpires concluded that it did -- and that the blast was not interfered with by fans reaching over the railing. Adams' 15th homer of the year pushed the Nats back within striking distance late, and finally rid them of Wheeler, who was pulled after 7 2/3 frames.

Video: WSH@NYM: Adams belts a 2-run homer, call confirmed

UP NEXT
The Nats' up-and-down first half concludes Sunday in the finale of this four-game series. Two of their most important players will be busy during the break that follows, with Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer set to play a big role in next week's All-Star festivities from Nationals Park. But first Washington will line up behind Jeremy Hellickson (3-1, 3.47 ERA) in a 1:10 pm ET matinee from Citi Field, with Gio Gonzalez available in relief if need be. Rookie Corey Oswalt (0-2, 6.75) opposes for the Mets.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Washington Nationals, Austin Voth