NEW YORK -- The two-time defending National League East champs were staggering. The Nationals got swept out of their own home by the Mets on the way to dropping seven of 10 on their first homestand and falling two games under .500.But they had dominated the Mets at Citi Field
NEW YORK -- The two-time defending National League East champs were staggering. The Nationals got swept out of their own home by the Mets on the way to dropping seven of 10 on their first homestand and falling two games under .500.
But they had dominated the Mets at Citi Field for years and responded by winning the first two games in the rematch in Queens. The Nats, though, couldn't finish the job on Wednesday night.
The Mets avoided the sweep with an 11-5 win, increasing their lead over Washington to five games and dropping the Nationals back under .500 at 9-10.
Washington had stunned the Mets with a six-run eighth-inning rally to come back and take the opener Monday night, but New York turned the tables with a nine-run, eighth-inning rally to come back and take the finale.
• Zimmerman breaks through with 2 HRs, triple
But you know what? The Nationals weren't sweating this loss. No sullen faces in the visiting clubhouse. The talk was purely positive.
"Great series," said Tanner Roark, who had Washington in position for the sweep with a great start, allowing two runs and two hits over seven innings. "We won the series. That's all that matters."
• Watch Roark unveil an unhittable pitch
Ryan Madson came on for the eighth to try to protect a 4-2 lead. But Madson had a rough night, perhaps unsurprisingly given his recent heavy use; his appearance Wednesday was his third in Washington's last three games, his fourth in five games and 11th overall.
"I think it speaks for itself," Madson said after being charged with six runs, five hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. "I think I had about five or 10 good bullets in there. The ball started getting away from me after that. I kind of emptied the tank the night before. … But I signed up for it."
Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera greeted Madson with singles to load the bases.
Jay Bruce fouled out, but Todd Frazier ripped a two-run single into center to tie it, moving to second on the throw. Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally passed to reload the bases. Madson fanned pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores, but then pinch-hitter Juan Lagares sliced a two-run double to right for a 6-4 lead, making a winner out of AJ Ramos (1-1).
"Madson's our guy," manager Dave Martinez said. "I'm going to put him out there. It just didn't work out today. Hats off to the Mets' players. They had some good at-bats."
They weren't done.
Sammy Solis replaced Madson and issued two straight walks, the second to Conforto with the bases packed again, making it 7-4. A.J. Cole replaced Solis and served up a grand slam to Cespedes to cap the outburst.
"We played a good series, come here and win two out of three," said Ryan Zimmerman, who broke out from his slump with a triple, two homers and four RBIs. "If we do that every time, I think we'll be all right."
• Zimmerman passes Zeile for most HRs by a Z player
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Michael A. Taylor had just a 13-percent catch probability on his diving grab to end the fifth inning, per Statcast™, making it a five-star catch. The center fielder needed to cover 56 feet in just 3.5 seconds after Cabrera lined a ball into left-center. But he did it, making an impressive backhanded catch.
Zimmerman has now hit 24 homers against the Mets, third among active players behind Chase Utley (39) and Giancarlo Stanton (35). Zimmerman also became just the third player in Nationals/Expos franchise history to hit a triple and two homers in a game, joining Vladimir Guerrero and Sean Berry.
HE SAID IT
"Our goal is to win series. Sweeps are hard to come by in this league. Obviously, [they're] a nice bonus when you get them. It's a good team over there."-- Zimmerman
The Nationals are looking forward to getting to a warmer climate after three chilly nights in New York. After Thursday's off-day, Washington's nine-game road swing resumes Friday at 10:10 p.m. ET in Los Angeles for the start of a three-game series against the Dodgers. Max Scherzer will make his fifth start of the season in the series opener. Originally scheduled Dodgers starter Rich Hill was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday with inflammation in his left middle finger.
Brian Heyman is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.