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Nationals blow 7-1 lead and lose second straight to the Mets, 8-7 final

The Washington Nationals had a 7-1 lead at one point, after a three-run error by Yoenis Cespedes in the sixth, but the New York Mets rallied to tie it up in a six-walk, six-run seventh inning and took an 8-7 lead on a pinch hit homer by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the 8th.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

5. Zimmermann vs the Mets: Jordan Zimmerman snapped a streak of six starts without a win, (over which he went (0-3) with a 3.68 ERA and a .224/.261/.351 line against in 36 ⅔ innings pitched, with Washington 2-4 in his outings), with a win over the Colorado Rockies back on August 18th.

That win started a four-start unbeaten streak the 29-year-old Nationals' righty extended with a win over Atlanta last time out in a 15-1 blowout in which he held the Braves' hitters to two hits, four walks and one earned run in 6.0 IP.

"Tonight was one of those nights when I made two mistakes and it looks a lot worse than it was..." -Jordan Zimmermann on last start vs Mets in Citi Field on August 2nd

"Coming out of the bullpen, he wasn't as crisp as he wanted to be," Nationals' manager Matt Williams said after the win over the Braves.

"Runs will help you settle in a little bit too, so he was able to just attack hitters and go after them, made it through six pretty good."

"A few too many walks for my liking," Zimmermann told reporters after the outing.

"But they gave me some runs early and I was able to settle in and just throw strikes, fill up the zone and let the guys behind me play defense."

The win over the Braves left Zimmermann (12-8) on the year after 28 starts, with a 3.38 ERA, a 3.60 FIP, 33 walks (1.72 BB/9) and 136 Ks (7.08 K/9) in 173 IP this season, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .262/.306/.382 line.

Tonight, however, he was facing a New York Mets team that did a number on him when he faced them in Citi Field last month, scoring five runs on six hits, three of them home runs, in six innings of what ended up a 5-2 loss.

All five of the runs Zimmermann allowed in that outing came over a five-pitch stretch in third which saw Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda take him deep to turn a 1-0 Nats' lead into a 5-1 deficit.

"Tonight was one of those nights when I made two mistakes and it looks a lot worse than it was," Zimmermann told reporters in New York after the game.

This time around, Zimmermann was facing the NL East-leading Mets in Nationals Park, where he had a 2.52 ERA (vs 4.67 on the road), a 3.32 FIP (vs 4.02) and a .235/.277/.327 line against in 103 ⅔ IP this season (vs .301/.342/.457 in 69 ⅓ IP outside of D.C.).

His outing began with a quick, 17-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the first.

Given a 2-0 lead to work with, Zimmermann went to work against David Wright in the first at bat of the Mets' second, battling the third baseman for eight pitches before giving up a solo home run to left on a 94 mph 3-2 fastball.

Wright's third home run of the year made it a 2-1 game. Zimmermann's 17-pitch second left him at 34 total after two.

With the score 3-1 after two, Zimmermann issued a two-out walk to Curtis Granderson in the third, before throwing a 2-2 fastball by Yoenis Cespedes to end a 19-pitch frame. 53 total.

A 14-pitch, two-strikeout, 1-2-3 fourth left Zimmermann at 67 pitches, with five Ks in four innings.

Travis d'Arnaud hit a ten-hopper to center for a leadoff single in the Mets' fifth, but a grounder to second off of Michael Conforto's bat, on a 3-2 bender, started a 4-6-3 DP. Wilmer Flores hit a fly to left to end a 17-pitch inning that pushed Zimmermann up to 84 pitches overall.

With one down in the Mets' sixth, Curtis Granderson worked the count full and tripled to center, over Michael Taylor's head. Zimmermann threw a 2-2 heater by Yoenis Cespedes up high to end his night with two down in the sixth.

Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 100 P, 64 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

4. Harvey will pitch forevers: New York Mets' starter Matt Harvey threw 13 scoreless innings against Washington in his first two starts against the Nationals this season, with six scoreless in his first start back in the majors after Tommy John surgery in Nats Park and seven more a month later when the two teams met in Citi Field.

"The key for us is to be patient enough to get a good one to hit and it doesn't change with Matt [Harvey] tonight or any of the pitchers that we're going to see." -Matt Williams on facing Matt Harvey before last night's game

When the 26-year-old, 2010 1st Round pick pitched in the nation's capital in July, however, the Nationals ended his scoreless inning streak in the third, after scoring two unearned runs in the first, when Clint Robinson doubled to drive in two in a three-run inning.

In his third start of the year against the Mets' divisional rivals, Harvey held the Nats to one run on five hits in 7 ⅔ IP in a 2-1 win in New York in which he received no decision.

After that outing, Harvey was left (2-1) in four starts vs the Nationals this season, with a 0.98 ERA, six walks (1.95 BB/9) and 24 Ks (7.81 K/9) in 27 ⅔ IP, over which he's held Nats' hitters to a combined .182/.236/.232 line.

Matt Williams talked after the one start, in July, in which the Nationals managed to beat Harvey for just the second time in eight career matchups, about what they were able to do right.

"I think we laid off the high fastball a little bit better," he said.

"We understand that that's part of his repertoire, when he gets two strikes he likes to elevate that fastball.

"[Bryce Harper] laid off a couple. He got a couple of walks early which allowed us to get more baserunners, but for the most part it's important for us to hit strikes and stay middle of the diamond, which we were able to do tonight against him."

With the win in that outing, the Nationals were the last team to beat Harvey this season.

He came into tonight's start in the second of three for the Mets in D.C. on a seven-start unbeaten streak, over which he had a 1.50 ERA and a .199/.221/.318 line against in 48 IP.

Harvey took the mound with something to prove tonight too, after he and his agent, Scott Boras, and the Mets got into a public altercation over the right-hander's innings limit in his first full-year back from Tommy John.

Mets' skipper Terry Collins told reporters today he expected a big night from Harvey:

Harvey's fifth start of the year against the Nationals began with a four-hit frame which saw Anthony Rendon, Yunel Escobar, Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond all connect for singles with Robinson and Desmond driving in runs for a 2-0 lead after an 18-pitch frame.

Michael Taylor walked to start the Nationals' second, but two outs later (after a bunt by Jordan Zimmermann and a swinging K by Jayson Werth), he was still standing at second when Anthony Rendon stepped in and hit an RBI single by third. 3-1 Nationals. 17-pitch second by Harvey, 35 total after two.

Clint Robinson hit a broken-bat single to center for a two-out hit in the Nationals' third, but Ian Desmond flew to left to end a relatively quick eight-pitch frame. 43 total.

A seven-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth pushed Harvey up to 50 pitches. A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Harvey at 59 pitches.

Yunel Escobar singled and Clint Robinson walked to start the Nationals' sixth. Ian Desmond tried to bunt them both over, and Matt Harvey bobbled it and threw late to third. WIlson Ramos stepped in with the bases loaded and went down looking but Michael Taylor hit a grounder up the middle that got by Yoenis Cespedes allowing everyone including Taylor to score. 7-1 Nationals. Harvey. Out.

Matt Harvey's Line: 5.1 IP, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 74 P, 53 S, 8/1 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: Bryce Harper started the night ranked 1st in the NL in AVG (.336), OBP (.468), SLG (.646), and Wins Above Replacement (+8.3 fWAR).

• Harper was, however, 0 for 17 career vs Mets' starter Matt Harvey heading into tonight's matchup, with three walks and seven Ks in 20 PAs.

• The Mets' win on Monday left them 8-6 against the Nationals this season, doubling their win total from 2014, when they were 4-15 against Washington.

• In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points"/Ian Desmond update: Nats' SS Ian Desmond has put up a .301/.376/.545 line with eight doubles, a triple, 10 HRs, 19 walks and seven stolen bases over the last 46 games, going back to July 20th.

• Jayson Werth has put up a .329/.393/.618 line with eight doubles, a triple, four home runs and eight walks in 18 games as the Nationals' leadoff man.

• The Mets are 5-5 in their last ten games, 26-13 in their last 39 and 29-19 so far in the second half.

• In today's Mets-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: The Mets, who are 31-37 overall on the road this season, are 20-12 away from Citi Field since July 1st.

• The Mets averaged 3.4 runs per game from between the start of the season and July 24th. Since then, they've averaged 6.1 runs per game.

• New York's hitters have connected for 72 home runs since the All-Star Break, behind only the Cubs (73) over that stretch.

• Yoenis Cespedes, who homered off Max Scherzer yesterday, has hit home runs in five of his last six games.

2. Turning Point(s): After a dispiriting loss in the series opener with the Mets in the nation's capital on Monday, the Nationals came out swinging against Matt Harvey, connecting for four singles, two of them RBI hits in the bottom of the first to jump out to a 2-0 lead on New York's right-hander.

• One at bat into the second, however, it was a 2-1 game after David Wright crushed a full-count fastball from Jordan Zimmermann, sending a solo shot to the back of the left field seats for his third home run of the season.

• Michael Taylor walked to start the Nationals' second, but two outs later he was still standing on second when Nats' second baseman Anthony Rendon stepped in and hit his second single in two at bats by the third base bag to bring the runner around and make it a 3-1 game.

• The Nationals blew it open in the sixth, loading the bases with no one out before Michael Taylor hit a one-out grounder to center that Yoenis Cespedes misplayed. Four runs scored, Taylor included, as the Nats jumped out to a 7-1 lead.

1. The Wrap-Up: Matt Thornton took over on the mound with Daniel Murphy at the plate and a runner at third, and popped Murphy up to end the Mets' sixth. Still 3-2 Nats.

Erik Goeddel took over on the mound for Matt Harvey after he loaded the bases with no one out in the sixth and gave up a single to center by Michael Taylor on which Yoenis Cespedes committed a three-run error. Jayson Werth doubled to right with two down, but was stranded.

Blake Treinen took over on the mound for the Nationals in the seventh and gave up a leadoff single by David Wright and a two-out walk to Michael Conforto. Wilmer Flores hit a two-out single to center to bring Wright in, 7-2.

Felipe Rivero took over for Treinen with two on and two out and pinch hitter Juan Uribe up and walked him to load the bases then walked Curtis Granderson to force in a run.

Drew Storen came on to face Yoenis Cespedes, who represented the potential tying run and gave up base-clearing double to left that made it 7-6 Nationals.

Storen walked Daniel Murphy to bring it back to David Wright and threw a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position then fell behind Wright, 3-0, and walked him on a 3-1 pitch. Bases loaded... again.

Lucas Duda stepped in and took a four-pitch walk to force in the tying run. 7-7. Travis d'Arnaud's fly to right finally, finally ended the inning.

Addison Reed took over for the Mets in the bottom of the seventh and worked around a one-out single by Yunel Escobar for a scoreless frame.

Jonathan Papelbon retired the first two batters in eighth, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a 1-0 fastball out to right to put the Mets up, 8-7.

Tyler Clippard retired the Nationals in order in the eighth and retired the Nationals in order.

Jonathan Papelbon threw a scoreless top of the ninth.

Jeurys Familia came on for the save that never should have been and gave up a leadoff single by Jayson Werth.

Anthony Rendon tried to get a bunt down and did on a 3-1 pitch, but the Mets got the out at second. One down. Bryce Harper spit on a 2-2 splitter to get to a full count and walked. Yunel Escobar came up with one on and two out and hit into a game-ending 5-4-3 DP.

Nationals now 71-67