Both clubs are looking for answers heading into Tuesday night's opener of a three-game series at Nationals Park.
Washington (28-29) owns a losing record for the first time since April 30 after dropping two of three at Atlanta. The Nationals, who are without injured superstar Bryce Harper , hit .190 and totaled seven runs with two walks and 20 strikeouts in the series.
"Half the ballclub is not doing things they're capable of offensively," manager Davey Johnson said. "I look up there, a bunch of guys are hitting .150. There's too good a quality of players here to be doing that. I'm sure we'll pick it up. It's just a tough time."
The Mets (22-32) swept four games last week from their city rival Yankees before heading to Miami over the weekend to face a Marlins team that had dropped a season-worst nine straight. New York batted .212, totaled eight runs and was swept while falling to 3-6 against the majors' worst team."Getting swept is not fun especially after sweeping the Yankees and feeling pretty good and then get our butt beat," first baseman Ike Davis said.
Johnson is looking forward to the likely return Tuesday by outfielder Jayson Werth , who has been out since May 2 with a strained right hamstring. Werth is hitting .260 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 27 games.
"The offense is just sputtering a little bit," Johnson said. "It'll be good to get Jayson back. ... That'd be a shot in the arm."
"We deserve to be where we're at right now," LaRoche said. "And we're still not in awful shape.
"That only goes so far. We're pretty deep into the season, so we've got to get it going or we won't be there at the end."
Mets manager Terry Collins was encouraged slightly by the production at the plate in Sunday's 11-6 defeat. The slumping Davis, who owns a .272 slugging percentage, drove in three runs and had one of three homers for New York.
"Maybe a couple of guys are breaking out and we'll be better offensively so maybe things are changing," Collins said.
The Mets handed Jordan Zimmermann (8-3, 2.37 ERA) his first loss April 21, as the Nationals starter allowed two runs over a season-low five innings in a 96-pitch effort. He still owns a 1.85 ERA over his last six starts against New York.
David Wright is 9 for 28 with two homers against the right-hander, although the third baseman has one hit in his last 15 at-bats.
Zimmermann had not yielded more than three runs in 15 straight regular-season contests before surrendering seven over six-plus innings in Wednesday's 9-6 defeat at Baltimore.
The Mets had dropped Jeremy Hefner 's first nine starts before he gave up three runs over six innings in a 9-4 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday.
Hefner (1-5, 4.74) is 0-3 with a 5.57 ERA in four outings against Washington, and Espinosa is 5 for 10 with two homers and two doubles against the right-hander.
|New York Mets|
|May 30, 2013||Jonathon Niese||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|May 30, 2013||Ruben Tejada||15-Day DL||Right quad strain|
|May 29, 2013||Ruben Tejada||Day-to-Day||Left game - quad injury|
|May 14, 2013||Scott Atchison||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|May 09, 2013||Jeurys Familia||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|April 29, 2013||David Wright||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|May 31, 2013||Stephen Strasburg||Day-to-Day||Strained right lat|
|May 27, 2013||Bryce Harper||15-Day DL||Left knee bursitis|
|May 26, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Left game - Sore left knee|
|May 24, 2013||Danny Espinosa||Day-to-Day||Broken bone in right wrist|
|May 20, 2013||Ryan Mattheus||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand|
|May 20, 2013||Ryan Mattheus||Day-to-Day||Broken right hand|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- You'd think the Washington Nationals had never seen anything like it before, the way they mobbed Steve Lombardozzi in a hopping, hugging mass of humanity after his game-winning sacrifice fly.
Well, there's a good reason: They hadn't seen it before. At least not this season.
On a day in which they made six roster moves meant to help kick-start a playoff-projected team sitting below .500, the Nationals found an even better way to swing the tide their way. They won a game when trailing after six innings for the first time in 2013, getting a pair of runs in the ninth Tuesday night for a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets .
"Maybe this is something we were looking for," said Jayson Werth , who was among the first out of the dugout to engulf Lombardozzi. "Maybe this will get us going."
The Nationals had been hitting .191 from the seventh inning on, just one reason they're seven games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Before the game, they said goodbye to two struggling relievers and put resistant but struggling second baseman Danny Espinosa (batting average: .158) on the 15-day disabled list. At least Werth was back, returning from the DL and going 1 for 4 in his first game since May 2.
And, for eight innings, they were the stereotypical Nationals of this year. They couldn't hit Jeremy Hefner and allowed two unearned runs. A 2-1 deficit usually isn't crippling in baseball, but it might as well have been 12-1 the way Washington had been playing.
Then came the ninth.
Against closer Bobby Parnell (4-2), Ryan Zimmerman led off with a double to right-center, barely beating the tag at second. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and tied the game on Adam LaRoche 's single.
Ian Desmond doubled and Roger Bernadina was intentionally walked to load the bases with none out for Lombardozzi. Parnell threw high heaters, trying for a popup or strikeout. Lombardozzi didn't get much of the ball, but his flyout down the left-field line was more than sufficient to score LaRoche.
Cue the big celebration.
"It capped a really terrible start to the day, you know," manager Davey Johnson said. "It's tough to send guys out of here, they're part of the family, and we didn't actually play that good until about the last part of the game. ... It was a great finish. It makes the day worthwhile."
Tyler Clippard (4-1) pitched the top of the ninth to get the victory, although Jordan Zimmermann did the hard work, allowing four hits and two unearned runs over eight innings.
The Mets' fourth straight loss spoiled a solid start by Hefner, who allowed one run and four hits over seven innings. Omar Quintanilla drove in both New York runs with a fourth-inning, two-out triple, getting the chance after the Nationals' slow reaction allowed a chopper by Jordany Valdespin to become an infield hit and a subsequent throwing error by first baseman LaRoche.
Until the ninth, the Nationals' only run came on Desmond's homer in the second.
They finally came through at the end against Parnell, who had converted his last seven save opportunities.
"I left a few balls over the middle that I didn't like," Parnell said. "But they're a good hitting team. It's a good part of the lineup, and I didn't walk them or anything like that. They hit some decent pitches, but I could've been better."
NOTES: Quintanilla is hitting .500 (9 for 18) in five games since coming up from the minors after shortstop Ruben Tejada was placed on the DL. ... The late rally kept Zimmermann from taking his first home loss in more than a year. His last defeat at Nationals Park came on May 17, 2012, vs. Pittsburgh. ... With Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg dealing with a slight lat strain, Gio Gonzalez 's next start was moved up to Strasburg's regular spot on Thursday. Gonzalez will pitch on normal rest because of a day off in the schedule. Strasburg will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday to see if he can start Saturday. ... Mets RHP Jeurys Familia will have surgery Wednesday to remove bone spurs and loose bodies in his right elbow.
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