WASHINGTON -- The Mets' offense has been built on home runs, as they entered Sunday leading the National League in the category. They were powered by home runs once again in their 6-5 victory against the Nationals in the first game of Sunday's split doubleheader at Nationals Park.Asdrubal Cabrera (aka
WASHINGTON -- The Mets' offense has been built on home runs, as they entered Sunday leading the National League in the category. They were powered by home runs once again in their 6-5 victory against the Nationals in the first game of Sunday's split doubleheader at Nationals Park.
Asdrubal Cabrera (aka "Chiquitín" for Players Weekend) launched a three-run homer in the first inning, Wilmer Flores (aka "Catire") followed with a two-run homer in the third (his career-high 17th) and Amed Rosario punctuated the victory with a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth.
The Nationals nearly tied the game in the ninth inning with a two-out rally started by a single from Adam Lind. Edwin Jackson replaced him as a pinch-runner at first base and raced around the bases on a double to deep center field from Daniel Murphy. Jackson tried to score the tying run after the ball rolled under right fielder Travis Taijeron's glove, but center fielder Juan Lagares picked up the ball and started a strong relay from Cabrera to catcher Travis d'Arnaud to catch Jackson at the plate. The Nats challenged the play, arguing d'Arnaud blocked the plate, but the call was confirmed, ending the game.
"He didn't give him a lane," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "It didn't take them very long to make that decision from New York. But from where I was he didn't have any chance of touching the plate. That's what it looked like to me."
The Mets surged to a five-run lead after the first three innings as left-hander Tommy Milone surrendered just one run in 4 1/3 innings with five strikeouts. But the Nationals battled back to tie the game by adding a pair of runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
"I thought he threw the ball good today," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Milone. "I thought he threw very good. Kept them off balance with his offspeed stuff and located his fastball better than he has [before], and I thought he pitched pretty well today."
Right-hander Erick Fedde, the Nats' No. 3 prospect as rated by MLBPipeline.com, made his third career start and turned in an uneven outing. He gave up five runs on seven hits as his velocity dipped at times, however, he managed to complete six innings on 112 pitches.
"My stuff just wasn't what I was used to today," said Fedde, who added he was not too concerned about his velocity. "I wasn't really checking the velo and whatnot, but I was just more worried about my command. My fastball was up a lot today. I got away with it a few times, and other times it got hit out of the park."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rosario puts the Mets in the lead: After Washington had tied the game the previous inning, the Mets' third long ball of the day helped them quickly regain the lead. Down 0-2 in the count, Rosario went after a high fastball from Nats right-hander Joe Blanton, sending it over the center-field wall to give New York the lead. In the rookie's brief tenure in the Majors, he's quickly adjusted and flashed power he hadn't shown in the Minor Leagues, knocking four home runs in just 93 at-bats since being called up.
"Every ball he's hit, he's hit it [to] right-center field and he's driven it," Collins said. "Another huge hit for us for sure."
Added Rosario: "It was pretty tough [to get used to the Majors] for me at the beginning. I came from a league where I wasn't seeing pitches come at me this fast. But I've adjusted, I feel like I'm doing better."
Ramos saves the day: With the Mets clinging to a 6-5 lead in the eighth and the Nats threatening to rally, New York went with its closer an inning early. AJ Ramos (aka "Junior") was summoned from the bullpen after Daniel Murphy led off the frame getting hit by a pitch. The 30-year-old right hander found himself in more trouble after allowing the potential go-ahead runs on base with two outs, but he escaped unscathed after getting Matt Wieters to ground out with the bases loaded. Ramos completed the six-out save with an eventful but ultimately scoreless ninth.
"That was a tough one to lose because we came back, big time," Baker said.
"As I saw the catcher blocking the plate, I have two options: either slide around him or try to run him over. But going back, looking at the replay, it definitely looked like he was blocking the plate" -- Jackson, on the final play at the plate
"I'm not too worried about it. It's late in the year, maybe just the body's a little sore, a little tired." -- Fedde on his decreased velocity
Mets: The second game of Sunday's split doubleheader will start at 8:08 p.m. ET at Nationals Park, with the Mets tapping Seth Lugo, aka "Quarterrican," who will be returning from a DL stint caused by a right shoulder impingement.
Nationals:Tanner Roark, aka "T-Ro," will take the mound for the second game of Sunday's split doubleheader. This will be his final start in August, in which he has posted his lowest ERA (3.24) of any month this season.
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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
Daniel Shiferaw is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington and covered the Mets on Friday.