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Nationals earn split with 6-1 win over Mets, enter All-Star Break 48-48...

Washington and New York split their four-game set in Citi Field with the Nationals winning the first and fourth games against the Mets to head into the All-Star break 48-48.

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

FLUSHING, QUEENS, NY: Jeremy Hellickson gave up one run in six innings in Citi Field, and a five-run seventh for the Washington Nationals broke a 1-1 tie and earned the visitors a split of the four-game set with the New York Mets, 6-1 final.

Hellboy vs Mets: Jeremy Hellickson tossed five scoreless on an efficient 67 pitches against the Pirates last time out before today, but a sixth inning rally in a 2-0 game in the Nationals’ favor led to his manager hitting for the right-hander an inning earlier than he might have in previous outings.

Both Hellickson and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez were happy with what the right-hander did on the mound in PNC Park, however, in spite of the abbreviated nature of the start. It came after an outing in which he tried to pitch through flu-like symptoms and gave up a total of nine hits and nine runs, eight earned, in just four innings (in what ended up being a 14-12 win).

“Hellickson gave us five strong innings after coming off of being sick, I thought we could score some runs right there and we did,” Martinez said.

“I would have liked to have gone a little deeper,” Hellickson acknowledged, “but we just needed a win. It was just good to feel good again.”

The Nationals needed a win again today, with Hellickson on the mound in the series finale with the New York Mets in Citi Field, and they got out to an early lead with a run in the top of the second, but the home team answered back in the bottom of the inning, with a walk to Michael Conforto, single by Devin Mesoraco, and an RBI groundout by Jose Reyes tying things up at 1-1.

Hellickson held the Mets there through four on an efficient 42 pitches before Jose Reyes hit a one-out double to right field on a line and took third on a wild pitch, and a two-out walk to pinch hitter Dominic Smith put runners on the corners in front of Brandon Nimmo, whose fly to center ended an 19-pitch frame, 61 total.

Martinez let Hellickson hit for himself in the top of the six (and of course he singled and was stranded). He came back out for the bottom of the inning and worked around a leadoff walk in a 12-pitch frame that left him at 73 total.

Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 73 P, 51 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

Oswalt, but not Roy Oswalt: Ranked 13th overall in the Mets’ system by MLB.com’s Pipeline scouts, Corey Oswalt is described in their write-up on the right-hander as a pitcher whose, “... ceiling is somewhat limited to that of a back-end starter,” but they noted that at the start of the season, he was, “... very close to reaching that and impacting a big league rotation,” which is why he was added to New York’s 40-Man roster this past winter.

Oswalt made his major league debut out of the bullpen in April, but made three starts as part of the Mets’ rotation in the last few weeks before today’s outing against the Nationals, putting up a 6.75 ERA with six walks, 14 Ks, and a .212/.288/.424 line against in 17 13 IP.

Anthony Rendon connected for the first hit off the Mets’ starter, taking an 0-1 sinker through the left side to lead off the second, and Matt Adams lined a single to right in the next at bat, sending Rendon around to third before he scored on a check-swing grounder to short off of Michael A. Taylor’s bat, 1-0.

Oswalt had set 11-straight Nationals down after a 1-2-3 fifth, but the Mets hit for him in the bottom of the inning with a runner on third and two out.

Corey Oswalt’s Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 59 P, 40 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

Rendon ❤️: Bryce Harper summed up the nation’s capital’s feelings about Anthony Rendon after the series opener in Citi Field on Thursday, which saw the Nationals’ third baseman hit two home runs and three hits total in a 5-4 win.

“Everybody knows he’s a special player,” Harper told reporters. “He should be at the All-Star Game and kind of sad he’s not. He’s one of the best third basemen in the game and I don’t think he gets enough respect the way he plays the hot corner and also the way he swings the bat. What a special talent and what a special player, and I’m fortunate enough to be on deck a lot of the times when he’s swinging it.”

Rendon extended a hit streak to eight-straight games with a single in the top of the second, and he scored the Nationals’ first run of the series finale in Citi Field, and he had hits in 15 of his last 17 after the the grounder through the left side of the infield.

Rendon was 1 for 2 with a walk and two runs scored after he took a free pass in the top of the seventh and eventually came around to score.

BULLPEN ACTION: Seth Lugo took over for New York in the top of the sixth, surrendering a leadoff single by Jeremy Hellickson, who was stranded three outs later, still 1-1.

Anthony Swarzak walked Juan Soto in the first at bat of the Nationals’ seventh, and Soto took second with the righty holding on the mound, forcing a late throw that got by the base.

Anthony Rendon walked in the next at bat to force Swarzak from the mound in favor of right-hander Tim Peterson, who gave up a line drive single to right by Matt Adams (2 for 3).

Daniel Murphy got a pinch hit opportunity with the bases loaded, and lined a two-run single to right, 3-1 Nationals. Also: Peterson entered the game with a .304 AVG vs lefties in 2018 vs Swarzak’s .354 AVG vs lefties. So a slight improvement, but it did not work for Mets’ skipper Mickey Callaway.

Matt Wieters bunted the two runners left on base over/gave up an out, and pinch hitter Brian Goodwin popped out to short-center, not deep enough.

Callaway went to lefty Jerry Blevins (who was apparently available the whole time) against Wilmer Difo and Blevins hit the Nats’ infielder to load’em back up in front of Adam Eaton, who took the second straight hit-by-pitch to force in a run, 4-1, and Trea Turner followed with a two-run single to right 6-1 after six and a half.

Brandon Kintzler needed 14 pitches to retire the Mets in order in the bottom of the seventh.

Ryan Madson got the bottom of the eighth for the Nationals after they came up empty in the top of the inning, and worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless frame.

The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth but came up empty.

Kelvin Herrera came on for the bottom of the ninth and worked around leadoff, one-out, and two-out singles for a scoreless frame.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 6-1 Nationals

Nationals now 48-48