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Mets 3-2 over Nationals: Lucas Duda homers twice, doubles in winning run

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New York Mets' first baseman Lucas Duda homered off Joe Ross twice and then doubled in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Washington Nationals dropped their second straight game in Citi Field. Lead in NL East down to 1.0 game.

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5. Ross vs the Mets: Joe Ross went 6 ⅓ innings against the New York Mets when he faced the Nationals' NL East rivals in Washington, D.C. two weeks back.

The 22-year-old rookie right-hander gave up one run on three hits in six innings pitched, then had two runners reach in the seventh on a single and an error before he was lifted with one down.

Both runners scored with right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett on the mound as the Mets took a 3-2 lead in what ended up a 7-2 win.

"Just unrattled," Williams said. "For such a young pitcher he's not rattled. Regardless of situation, who he's facing, it doesn't matter." -Matt Williams on Nationals' starter Joe Ross

"I thought he pitched well," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said. "He was in command the whole time he was out there. Got up there in pitches and had some trouble there in the last inning, but I thought he pitched great."

Ross followed that outing up with another solid start against the PIttsburgh Pirates last week on the road in PNC Park in which he gave up five hits, a walk and three earned runs in six innings of a 3-1 game in which he took his second straight loss.

"I thought he pitched well though, gave us a chance," Williams told reporters, but more than the results, he said, he was impressed with the demeanor of the 2011 Padres' 1st round pick who made the jump from Double-A to the majors in his first season in the Nats' organization after he was acquired from the Padres this winter.

"Just unrattled," Williams said. "For such a young pitcher he's not rattled. Regardless of situation, who he's facing, it doesn't matter. He's been effective. He's given us an opportunity to keep us in games and allow us to stay ahead or come back. He hasn't let it get out of hand, which is great. He just continues to pitch well."

Through five starts before tonight's, Ross was (2-3) with a 3.03 ERA, a 1.86 FIP, three walks (0.83 BB/9) and 34 Ks (9.37 K/9) in 32 ⅔ innings pitched in which he's held opposing hitters to a .226/.258/.285 line.

His second start against the Mets in three outings began with the Nationals ahead 2-0 after a half-inning in Citi Field. Ross retired the side in order, collecting one strikeout in a 17-pitch first.

Ross walked Lucas Duda in the first at bat of the second, but retired the next three Mets in order in a 20-pitch frame that left him at 37 total after two. A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 third left him at 49 pitches.

Two outs into the fourth, Ross gave up his first hit of the game on a solo home run to deep  center field off Lucas Duda's bat. 2-1 Nats.12-pitch frame, 61 total after four.

Kelly Johnson singled to center to start the Mets' fifth, and one out later Jacob deGrom bunted him over.

Ruben Tejada stepped in with a runner in scoring position against Ross for the first time tonight, but he went down chasing a 1-2 slider out of the zone away. 11-pitch frame, 72 total.

Ross collected two Ks in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth that left him at 84 pitches overall. Still 2-1 Nationals.

Ross came back out for the seventh and gave up another home run by Lucas Duda on a first-pitch sinker low and away that it ended up in the PartyCity.com deck. 2-2 in the seventh. A one-out double by Kelly Johnson knocked Ross out.

• Joe Ross' Line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 2 HRs, 92 P, 64 S, 11/1 GO/FO.

4. deGrom Again: In his first start of the year against the Nationals, 27-year-old New York Mets' right-hander Jacob deGrom gave up six hits, two walks and two earned runs in six innings of work in a 2-1 loss in the season-opening series in Washington, D.C.

"He's a really good pitcher," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said.

"He's a really good pitcher. All of these guys over there are good pitchers. They command the zone, they throw strikes. They run it in there well and he's tough..." -Matt Williams on facing Jacob deGrom earlier this season

"All of these guys over there are good pitchers. They command the zone, they throw strikes. They run it in there well and he's tough, so like you said, we were able to take advantage of some opportunities."

Three weeks later, deGrom took a loss, going 5 ⅓ innings on the mound in Citi Field over which he gave up five hits and five runs, three earned in an 8-2 game in which the Nationals came out on top.

Last week in the nation's capital, deGrom gave up just three hits and two runs in six innings in the Mets' 7-2 win over their NL East divisional rivals.

deGrom followed up on that outing with 7 ⅔  scoreless against the Los Angeles Dodgers last week in New York in a 3-2 loss to LA in which he walked two, struck out eight and received no decision.

That start left the second-year major leaguer (10-6) on the year with a 2.05 ERA, a 2.58 FIP, 23 walks (1.63 BB/9) and 128 Ks (9.05 K/9) in 19 starts and 127 ⅓ innings pitched this season in which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .191/.236/.276 line.

deGrom's fourth start of the season against the Nationals began with back-to-back, one-out singles to right by Yunel Escobar and Bryce Harper. Ryan Zimmerman lined out to center for out no.2, with Escobar unable to tag and score, but Jayson Werth took a 3-2 fastball outside to load the bases with two down and Nats' shortstop Ian Desmond due up and Desmond hit an 0-1 fastball back up the middle for a broken-bat single that brought in two runs. 2-0 after a half. 31-pitch first.

The Nationals went down in order in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 second by deGrom, who was up to 42 pitches.

Yunel Escobar singled through short to start the third on deGrom's 51st pitch of the game. Ryan Zimmerman sent a screamer back up the middle one out later. Jayson Werth stepped in with two on and one out and sent a fly to right that moved Escobar to third, but both runners were stranded when Ian Desmond K'd looking to end a 27-pitch frame that left deGrom at 69 pitches.

A 16-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left deGrom at 85 pitches.

Bryce Harper lined a two-out single to left field in the Nationals' half of the fifth, but Ryan Zimmerman K'd swinging at a 2-2 change to end a 16-pitch frame. 101 pitches.

deGrom came back out for the sixth and retired the side in order in a 16-pitch frame that left him at 117 pitches.

Jacob deGrom's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 0 HR, 117P, 78 S, 6/3 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: The Mets added Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline on Friday afternoon. He's making his debut for New York tonight after putting up a .293/.323/.506 line, 28 doubles and 18 HRs in 427 PAs in Detroit.

• The walk-off home run by Wilmer Flores was the first walk-off homer of his three-year major league career and the Mets' seventh walk-off this season.

Curtis Granderson extended his on-base streak to 15 straight games last night, over which he's 19 for 62 for a .306 AVG with a .386 OBP over that stretch. A leadoff double in the eighth extended his hit streak to 16-straight.

• For tonight's "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, Jacob deGrom is (7-2) with a 1.37 ERA in his last 12 starts and 85 ⅔ innings pitched, over which he's walked 11 (1.16 BB/9) and struck out 91 (9.56 K/9).

• deGrom's 1.48 ERA in Citi Field this season is the major league's third lowest and the NL's lowest home ERA.

Bryce Harper's 26-game on-base streak ended with his 0 for 5 last night in the series opener in Citi Field, as did his 45-game road on-base streak.

• Speaking of streaks, Nationals' set-up man Drew Storen, after back-to-back outings in the second and third games of the Nats' three-game set in Miami, has made 11 straight appearances and thrown 10 ⅓ scoreless since he last gave up a run.

2. Turning Point(s): Jacob deGrom entered tonight's game with a 1.48 ERA in Citi Field this season, but a 4.26 ERA in the first inning so far this season (9 ER in 19 IP), so if the Nationals were going to get to him it was probably a good idea to try to strike early and they did with Yunel Escobar and Bryce Harper singling with one down, Jayson Werth walking with two out and Ian Desmond coming through with a broken-bat, two-run single to center that gave the visiting team an early lead. 2-0 after a half.

• Joe Ross was through 3 ⅔  hitless though he was living dangerously with his sinker up in the zone and hit hard at times, but Lucas Duda finally got hold of one in the fourth, hitting a solo home run 400+ feet to deep center field in Citi Field to cut the Nats' lead in half with just the second home run Ross has allowed in 36 ⅔ innings pitched in the majors.

• Duda got him again in the seventh on a first-pitch sinker outside that the Mets' first baseman was able to drive to left field and into the PartyCity.com deck for a game-tying solo home run. 2-2 in NY.

1. The Wrap-Up: Bobby Parnell took over for New York in the top of seventh inning and gave up a two-out, broken-bat, infield single by Joe Ross, but nothing else.

Casey Janssen came on in relief of Joe Ross with one on and one out in the Mets' seventh after Kelly Johnson's one-out double to left knocked Ross out of the game. One out later, the Nationals walked pinch hitter Juan Uribe to get to Ruben Tejada, who grounded out to first. 2-2 after seven.

Hansel Robles struck Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth out for the first and third outs of a 1-2-3 eighth.

Matt Thornton took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the eighth inning, and gave up a leadoff double to right by Curtis Granderson. One out later, with Granderson still on second, Thornton walked Yoenis Cespedes to get to the lefty vs lefty matchup with Lucas Duda (who had a .298/.353/.543 line in 102 PAs vs LHP) and doubled to left field, over Jayson Werth's head. 3-2 Mets. 3 for 3, 2 HRs, double.

Aaron Barrett struck Wilmer Flores out and popped Kelly Johnson up to end the top of the inning. 3-2 NY.

Jeurys Familia came out for the ninth and retired the Nationals in order. Ballgame.

Nationals now 54-48