Zack Wheeler won for the first time since April 29, Michael Conforto homered and the New York Mets defeated the Washington Nationals, 7-4 on Saturday.
Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes and Kevin Plawecki each had two hits as the light-hitting Mets scored seven runs for the first time since June 24. New York came into the game last in the National League in batting average and was tied with San Diego for the third-fewest runs scored in the majors.
Wheeler (3-6) was brilliant for seven innings before tiring in the eighth in his longest outing since June 19, 2014. He struck out seven and allowed just one hit through the first five innings. The 28-year old right-hander opened the season with a victory against Miami on April 11 and then defeated the Padres two weeks later. The victory snapped a 13-start winless streak and was Wheeler's first victory at Citi Field this season, despite allowing just 10 earned runs over his last 37 2-3 innings at home.
New York roughed up Austin Voth (0-1), who was making his major league debut. After a quiet first inning that included the 26-year old right-hander striking out Mets leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo on three pitches, Voth ran into immediate trouble in the second. Flores singled to lead off the frame and moved to second on a Plawecki single. Voth was unable to help his own cause, pausing for too long after fielding Jose Reyes' chopper to throw out the still speedy infielder. Amed Rosario remained hot, singling through the right side to score Flores with the first run of the game.
Wheeler lofted a sacrifice fly and Nimmo drove in a run with a groundout to give New York a three-run lead.
The Mets reached Voth for four in the fifth, three coming on Conforto's first home run since June 26. Voth, who did not pitch in his two prior stints with Washington allowed all seven runs and struck out three. He was the fourth starting pitcher to make his major league against the Mets, but was the first to suffer a loss.
Brandishing a fastball that touched 97 and an assortment of breaking pitches, Wheeler was able to keep Washington off-balance until the Nationals finally broke through on Bryce Harper's RBI single in the sixth. New York manager Mickey Callaway left Wheeler in the game to face Harper again with a runner on in the eighth, and the right-hander struck out the slumping Harper on seven pitches. Harper finished 1 for 4 and has just two multi-hit games since June 9. The All-Star outfielder had a pre-game meeting with manager Dave Martinez after Harper failed to run out a fifth-inning ground ball Friday.
After finding success against Harper, Wheeler wasn't as lucky against Matt Adams. Adams lofted a fly ball to right field that appeared to carom off a fan's hands and was played by Jose Bautista, who immediately pointed in the fan's direction. The play was ruled a home run and after a crew chief review, remained a home run, ending Wheeler's day.
Jeurys Familia pitched a perfect for his 17th save in 21 chances.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled for a rehab start Sunday for Single-A Potomac. Manager Dave Martinez indicated he hoped Strasburg would throw between 80 and 85 pitches. Strasburg would be in position to start Washington's first game after the All-Star break versus Atlanta . Catcher Matt Wieters was given the day off after playing in three straight games. He was activated from the disabled list on July 9 after missing two months after surgery on his left hamstring.
Mets: Infielder T.J. Rivera (Tommy John surgery) was removed after five innings from a rehab game with Triple-A Las Vegas Friday with discomfort in his right arm. He is scheduled to undergo further testing . OF Yoenis Cespedes (strained right hip flexor) is ready to progress to something "a little more strenuous", although Callaway did not indicate what Cespedes' next would be. The Mets will play three games against the New York Yankees after the All-Star break and Callaway left open the possibility that the ailing outfielder could serve as the Mets' designated hitter for the series. Callaway did note that Cespedes would return as New York's left fielder, ending any speculation of a potential position change for the 32-year old.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson (3-1, 3.47 ERA) takes to the mound for Washington in the final game before the All-Star break. Hellickson spun five scoreless frames against Pittsburgh on July 10. He has reached the sixth inning just once in 12 starts and has yet to reach 100 pitches. He'll be opposed by New York's Corey Oswalt (0-2, 6.75 ERA).
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