A steep early deficit wasn’t enough to faze the Washington Nationals, but a home run off the bat in the eighth was as they dropped the first game of their Sunday doubleheader to the New York Mets, 6-5.
Rookie Erick Fedde made his third career start, allowing two home runs in the first three innings to Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores that gave the Mets a 5-0 lead.
After initially struggling against Mets starter Tommy Milone, the Nats slowly chipped away at New York’s lead before finally tying the game in the seventh.
Four different Nats had multi-hit games, highlighted by Alejandro De Aza’s performance that included a triple, RBI double and sacrifice fly.
Michael Taylor also had a big day, reaching base three times including an RBI double in the seventh.
Shawn Kelley pitched a scoreless seventh, but New York jumped back ahead by one in the eighth on an Amed Rosario home run with Joe Blanton on the mound.
The Nats were unable to push any more runs across in the later innings and dropped the first of two with the Mets.
Nationals now 77-51.
Here’s how it happened:
• Command was an issue for Erick Fedde early, and the Mets took full advantage. Brandon Nimmo led off the game with an infield single and Juan Lagares was hit by a pitch before Asdrubal Cabrera cranked a three-run homer to right to put the Nats in a hole early.
Two innings later, Cabrera drew a one-out walk off Fedde to bring up Wilmer Flores. Flores hit his 100th home run of his career just over the wall in left to make it a 5-0 game.
• Tommy Milone cruised through his first four innings. Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff single in the first but was left stranded. In the second, Alejandro De Aza laced a two-out triple into the gap in right center, but Rafael Bautista popped out to end the inning.
Matt Wieters singled and Michael Taylor drew a walk with two outs in the fourth, but De Aza was unable to keep the rally going and grounded out to send the Nats into the fifth still down 5-0.
• Washington was finally able to get something going in the fifth. Bautista reached on an infield single and moved to second courtesy of a Fedde sacrifice bunt. Kendrick then followed with a single to put runners on the corners before Wilmer Difo singled to left and put the Nats on the board.
Difo’s single knocked Milone out of the game, bringing in reliever Hansel Robles. With the heart of the order due up, it looked like the Nats might be able to do more, but back-to-back strikeouts by Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman killed the rally.
• Tommy Milone’s Line: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 82 P, 52 S, 5/0 GO/FO
• Fedde finished the fifth inning with 89 pitches, but Dusty Baker sent him back out to the mound for the top of the sixth. He retired the first two batters he faced with relative ease, but then allowed back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases.
Nimmo stepped to the plate and things looked dicey for Fedde when he fired three straight balls to start the at-bat. He settled down, however, and followed up with three strikes in a row to get out of the jam.
• Erick Fedde’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 112 P, 67 S, 7/4 GO/FO
• Rafael Montero was given the ball for the bottom of the sixth. He walked Taylor with one out, who stole second and made it to third when the throw sailed into center field. De Aza then doubled into the right field corner to bring Taylor around to score. When Bautista followed with a single, manager Terry Collins walked out of the dugout and went to the bullpen.
With Josh Smoker in the game, pinch hitter Andrew Stevenson walked to load the bases. That prompted Collins to go right back to the mound and bring in right-hander Paul Sewald to face Kendrick. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Kendrick scored De Aza and made it a 5-3 ballgame.
• Shawn Kelley pitched a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. It was only the fifth time this season he’s completed an inning by retiring all three batters he faced.
• Zimmerman snapped an 0-10 skid with a one-out single off Sewald to get a rally started in the seventh. Wieters followed with a single of his own and Taylor doubled to left to score Zimmerman from third. Lefty Jerry Blevins then entered the game to face De Aza, who hit a sacrifice fly that tied the game at five runs apiece.
• Dusty Baker opted to go to Joe Blanton for the top of the eighth and double switched Daniel Murphy into the game. Blanton got two outs before rookie Amed Rosario homered to straightaway center field to put New York back on top 6-5.
• After Blevins hit Murphy with a pitch to start the bottom half of the frame, A.J. Ramos came in to get New York out of the inning. He promptly allowed a bunt single to Kendrick, but set down both Difo and Rendon to bring up Zimmerman with two outs.
Zimmerman drew a walk, but Wieters grounded out to short to end the inning.
• Sammy Solis took over with one out in the top of the ninth and got an out, but allowed two baserunners to reach and was quickly pulled. Baker then brought in Matt Albers to get the Nats out of the jam, and he did just that by forcing Flores to fly out to right.
• Ramos came back out for the bottom of the ninth. He retired Taylor and De Aza but allowed a single to pinch hitter Adam Lind. Edwin Jackson pinch ran for Lind with Murphy at the plate.
The second baseman plugged the gap with a laser up the middle and Jackson rounded third and broke for home but was thrown at at the plate to end the game.