Before Ross recorded an out in the third inning, he had allowed four runs on a career-high nine hits and the Nationals trailed, 4-0. Syndergaard began the game as a legitimate contender for the National League Cy Young Award, but he struggled with his command from the outset.
"If you go out there, nine times out of 10, and you give up four runs early to Syndergaard, most of the time the game's over," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
Ross was able to correct himself and finish the outing strong, as he held the Mets scoreless with only one hit through his final three frames.
Meahwhile, Syndergaard escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the first inning but needed 71 pitches to get through three frames. He allowed a season-high five runs on seven hits and three walks, with all five of the runs coming in the third. Then the Nationals hammered Sean Gilmartin and Erik Goeddel for six runs to put the game away.
"I keep saying it every day, when we're down, we're not really down," Bryce Harper said. "We've got a great team, and the way we've been playing lately, I think we've been swinging the bat well, taking good at-bats, and we finally put it together tonight and really had a great approach and got it going."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Running wild: Only three of the Nationals' 17 hits went for extra bases, but they scored 11 runs thanks in large part to their ability on the basepaths. Washington stole six bases, matching a single-game high for stolen bases in a game in Nationals history (July 8, 2012, against Colorado). Ben Revere set the pace, going 4-for-5 to match a career high for hits, runs scored (three) and stolen bases (three). He is the first player in franchise history with four hits, three runs and three stolen bases in one game.
"I found the right pitches to hit, found key holes after going through my struggles," Revere said. "I've been putting the ball in play, hitting some balls good, but just unlucky that it's right at people." More >
Thor proves mortal: It wasn't just the five stolen bases that were Syndergaard's problem. The Mets' best control artist heading into the game, Syndergaard also walked three batters for the first time all season, two of them in the game's opening inning. It was the second consecutive abbreviated outing for Syndergaard, who left his last one after six innings due to right elbow tightness. Afterward, reports indicated that Syndergaard is dealing with a bone spur, which he flatly denied.
"I do not, no," Syndergaard said when asked directly if he has a bone spur or chips in his elbow. "My arm feels great." More >
Good talk: With Ross reeling in the third inning, Baker made a rare visit to the mound that did not involve a call to the bullpen.
"I don't know. I just felt it was time for me to go," Baker said. "I asked [pitching coach Mike Maddux's] permission to go out and talk to him. I don't have to ask, but it was something I felt I had to say and it couldn't wait any longer."
After the talk, Ross turned around his outing. He retired the next nine batters he faced and did not allow another run for the rest of his outing. Ross allowed four runs on 10 hits with seven strikeouts in six resilient innings.
"I think I just found a rhythm," Ross said. "The first three innings, fastball command wasn't there, slider wasn't good. I kept getting out of jams, but it wasn't as good as it could have been. And then I kind of picked it up the last three. Just overall I felt my better command came back."
Save that ball:Brandon Nimmo provided one of the evening's few bright spots for the Mets, recording his first career hit on a line-drive single off Ross in the second. Playing in his second game since joining the Mets on Saturday, Nimmo added an infield hit in the third inning to finish 2-for-4.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: With Syndergaard struggling and Steven Matz dealing with an elbow issue, Matt Harvey will look to give the Mets -- and his bullpen -- a lift when they return to Nationals Park on Tuesday for a 7:05 p.m. ET game. Harvey is winless over his last four starts, despite a 2.88 ERA.
Nationals: Lucas Giolito, MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, will make his Major League debut against the Mets. Giolito, who is starting in place of the injured Stephen Strasburg, owns a 3.17 ERA in 14 starts for Double-A Harrisburg with 72 strikeouts in 71 innings. More >