WASHINGTON -- As the Nationals soared to baseball's best record this week, the Mets were hobbled by a plethora of injuries and inconsistent play, leading to a 7 1/2-game gap between the two teams in the standings as this three-game series began Friday night at Nationals Park.But the dominant effort
WASHINGTON -- As the Nationals soared to baseball's best record this week, the Mets were hobbled by a plethora of injuries and inconsistent play, leading to a 7 1/2-game gap between the two teams in the standings as this three-game series began Friday night at Nationals Park.
But the dominant effort from Jacob deGrom and a career night from Travis d'Arnaud at the plate halted the Mets' losing streak at six in a thrilling 7-5 victory over the Nationals, staving off a late Nationals rally that included Nats center fielder Adam Eaton leaving the game with a leg injury in the ninth inning and landing him on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday.
Eaton's injury took the air out of the crowd of 34,562 fans at Nationals Park, which had been sensing a comeback as Washington loaded the bases in the ninth while down by two. But Jeurys Familia struck out Trea Turner and Mets manager Terry Collins turned to left-hander Josh Edgin, who forced Bryce Harper into a 1-2-3 double play to end the game.
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"You'd have much rather lost the game than lose Adam," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "We all knew on the bench it didn't look good, but we still had the chance to come back and win that game. … They got away. Boy, that's a tough way to end the game."
DeGrom spun seven stellar innings and struck out 12 to record his third consecutive double-digit strikeout game and outduel Nats ace Max Scherzer. DeGrom yielded a pair of homers in the second inning -- a solo shot to Ryan Zimmerman and a two-run homer from Matt Wieters -- but he settled in and eventually recorded seven consecutive outs via the strikeout between the fourth and sixth innings.
"The thing I liked is when [deGrom] came in, he said, 'That's it, they're not scoring anymore," d'Arnaud said. "So he battled and fought and was able to go seven innings. That was awesome."
Meanwhile, d'Arnaud recorded his first career multi-homer game and set a career high with five RBIs. He blasted a two-run moonshot in the second inning and added a three-run homer in the fourth inning to provide all the Mets' offense against Scherzer, who allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings with seven strikeouts.
The Mets had dropped 10 of their last 11 games entering Friday's game. They placed Yoenis Cespedes, their best hitter, on the disabled list before the game and were still unsure whether Noah Syndergaard, their best pitcher, would be able to make his start Sunday. Still, Baker pointed out before the game that even this banged-up version of the Mets was dangerous because of their pitching staff.
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And pitchers such as deGrom are capable of ending a dangerous swoon with an outing like this one.
"Huge night against a great ballclub," d'Arnaud said. "To be up 1-0 in this series after a rough stretch that we've had is definitely huge."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Loosening the reigns: Even though he was at 101 pitches, the Mets allowed deGrom to take the mound for the seventh inning. He rewarded them with a 1-2-3 frame on just 11 pitches, capped by a sliding catch from Curtis Granderson in center field to rob pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo of a hit. Granderson covered 58 feet in 3.7 seconds on the play, which had just a 29 percent catch probability and was rated a four-star catch by Statcast™.
"My plan was to go out there for the seventh," deGrom said. "I walked in, and they said, 'How you feeling?' I said, 'I'm fine. I'm going back out.'"
Nats make a late push in the ninth: Zimmerman added another a two-run shot in the eighth off reliever Addison Reed to bring Washington within two runs, and the Nationals loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth against Familia, who is still working his way into form after he was suspended for 15 games for violating Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy. But Familia came through with a huge strikeout before Collins turned to Edgin to face Harper, who grounded into a game-ending double play.
"That's my job," Edgin said. "Whatever he wants me to do, I'll come in and try to get the out."
"Edgin was warming up, so I thought I'd face him definitely," Harper said. "[He] threw me a backup slider second pitch, [and I] hit it over the dugout. And he threw me another slider and got me. It's just part of the game and part of the process. I'll face him again." More >
The Nationals placed Eaton on the DL with a left knee sprain and called up outfielder Rafael Bautista from Triple-A Syracuse. After the game, the clubhouse was somber at the prospect of losing Eaton, who had been hitting .297/.393/.462 in his first 23 games with Washington as one of the sparks at the top of the order.
"It's just awful," Scherzer said. "Especially when you see the replay, he comes up short of the bag and you see his ankle roll over, his whole leg kind of falls apart. Seeing him in the training room, it's an awful feeling. You hate seeing your teammates, those guys injured severely. And I think that's what happened."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
In striking out 12, deGrom became the first Mets pitcher to whiff double-digit batters in three consecutive games since David Cone in 1992. Cone went on to lead the Major Leagues with 261 strikeouts that season.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Nationals manager Dusty Baker unsuccessfully challenged first-base umpire John Tumpane's eighth-inning ruling that Zimmerman's foot came off first base on a Rivera bouncer to third. The ruling stood, putting runners at the corners with no outs for the Mets, who went on add two runs to their lead.
Mets: The Mets will seek continued efficiency on Saturday from Zack Wheeler (1-2, 5.40 ERA), who lasted a season-high seven innings last time out against the Nationals. Wheeler struggled to pitch deep into his first three starts, before breaking out at Citi Field. He'll start a 1:10 p.m. ET matinee at Nationals Park.
Nationals:Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 2.89 ERA) will make his first start since being activated from the paternity list after the birth of his second child. He has lasted seven innings and surrendered no more than three runs in each of his first four starts.
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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.