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Mets beat Nats 2-1 in epic game capped by Flores walk-off

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Mets beat Nats 2-1 in epic game capped by Flores walk-off

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: You want pennant race baseball? Here you go, folks. A few short hours after the trade deadline passed, the Nationals and Mets opened a big weekend series that will play a significant role in the outcome of this season's NL East race. And it was everything you could want it to be. And some things you never wanted it to be.

Matt Harvey carried a perfect game into the sixth inning, but the New York ace was left with no margin for error because the Nationals pitching staff managed to limit the Mets to one run (with Gio Gonzalez avoiding disaster during a walk-filled bottom of the fourth).

Harvey continued into the top of the eighth, despite a pitch count approaching 110 and command that was losing its sharpness. That's when Yunel Escobar came through with a game-tying, 2-out RBI single up the middle, dashing the Citi Field crowd's hopes and leaving Harvey with no decision. Then came Tyler Clippard, facing his old club for the first time, engaging in an epic, 13-pitch at-bat with Jayson Werth that ended on a borderline 3-2 pitch called a strike.

Aaron Barrett tossed two scoreless innings out of the Nationals bullpen, and so this game went into extras. The Nats couldn't push anything across against Mets closer Jeurys Familia, nor could they do it against Hansel Robles. Robles, though, was helped by a borderline strike three call on Bryce Harper, which left the young star screaming in umpire Jerry Meals' face ... and subsequently getting ejected, forcing Ryan Zimmerman to left field and Dan Uggla to first base for the first time in his career.

That ultimately didn't affect the outcome of the game. But Wilmer Flores sure did. The Mets infielder, who was in tears two nights ago when he thought he had been traded to Milwaukee, ended this game with a home run off Felipe Rivero that sent the crowd into a frenzy and left New York a mere 2 games behind the Nationals.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: With Harvey fading in the eighth, two out and two on, Escobar delivered the biggest hit of the night (to that point) for the Nationals. He didn't bite at Harvey's pitches out of the zone, then managed to get on top of a high fastball and send it back up the middle for a huge, game-tying single that knocked the Mets ace out of the game. It was merely the latest quality at-bat from Escobar, who has proven quite the important acquisition for the Nationals.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: The bad news: Gonzalez was all over the place during the fourth and fifth innings, issuing four combined walks during those two frames and putting himself in all kinds of danger. The good news: Gonzalez somehow was able to emerge from all of that allowing only one run to cross the plate. (Some credit, of course, goes to Tanner Roark for bailing the starter out in the fifth.) Gonzalez was visibly upset at himself — and possibly Matt Williams — as everything played out, but the quick hook was necessary given the situation. With Harvey dealing for the Mets, Williams couldn't afford to risk pushing his starter any farther.

KEY STAT: Matt Harvey retired 30 consecutive Nationals batters over the span of two starts. The streak began after a Jose Lobaton walk in the third inning on July 20 at Nationals Park. It ended with a Jose Lobaton single in the sixth inning Friday night.

UP NEXT: The series continues at 7:10 p.m. Saturday when Joe Ross (2-3, 3.03) faces Jacob deGrom (10-6, 2.05) in another big game at Citi Field.

MORE NATIONALS: Nats' reliever to get second opinion on ailing shoulder

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.