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Gsellman, Mets top Nats 3-1 to move within game of wild card

Gsellman, Mets top Nats 3-1 to move within game of wild card

NEW YORK (AP) -- A sign above the doorway at one end of the Mets' clubhouse reads: Do Your Thing.

Sage advice for the defending NL champs down the stretch -- no matter who is on the mound.

Curtis Granderson and James Loney came through with big hits to back Robert Gsellman, and New York got another gritty start from an unheralded rookie in its banged-up rotation to beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 on Saturday night.

"We've asked a lot of some young players and they have stepped up," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "If you would have told me in April that I'm going to look out on the field and I'm going to have three players that were in our opening day lineup and four rookie pitchers to win a game, I'd tell you you're out of your mind."

Gsellman (2-1) pitched out of trouble for six innings, and inexperienced center fielder Michael Conforto made a diving catch that thwarted a potential Nationals rally in the seventh.

New York rebounded from consecutive losses and won for the 10th time in 14 games, moving within one game of St. Louis for the final NL playoff berth.

"We're right there," Loney said. "This is what we play for."

Tanner Roark (14-8) allowed two runs over five innings and walked a career-high four -- one intentional. He was lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth, but Washington never broke through and had its four-game winning streak snapped.

Anthony Rendon hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the first. Danny Espinosa struck out all four times up for the Nationals, who still have a 9 1/2-game lead in the NL East over the Mets.

"He's swinging too hard when we need to put the ball in play," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "That's something that we're addressing and he's got to keep working on it."

Making his third major league appearance and second start, the long-haired, 23-year-old Gsellman was pumped up after wriggling out of a jam in the sixth.

With runners at second and third, he fanned Espinosa and got pinch hitter Ben Revere on an inning-ending groundout.

"Just take a deep breath and don't get too ahead of yourself," Gsellman said after his first career win as a starter. "Make a good pitch and see what they do with it."

Collins said Gsellman had "about as good a sinker as I've seen from anybody."

Jayson Werth singled with one out in the seventh and ex-Met Daniel Murphy hit a line drive to center field. Conforto, however, charged in and made a sensational play that was probably more acrobatic than wise.

"It definitely felt good to get that one," Conforto said. "Puts us in a bad spot if it gets past me, for sure."

Rookie left-hander Josh Smoker struck out NL MVP Bryce Harper on a breaking ball way out of the strike zone to end the inning.

Addison Reed tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Jeurys Familia whiffed two in a perfect ninth for his major league-leading 45th save in 48 tries, extending his franchise record.

New York had lost four straight and seven of eight to the Nationals.

"It was kind of a nothing game when we didn't come through all game," Baker said after his team finished 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

On fireworks night at Citi Field, Granderson hit a two-run single in the third on the first pitch after Yoenis Cespedes was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs.

Loney, also struggling in clutch situations and dropped to eighth in the lineup for the first time all season, added an RBI double with two outs in the sixth off Matt Belisle. Travis d'Arnaud scored easily from first base when Harper overthrew two cutoff men from the right-field corner.

BREAKING OUT

Granderson got his first RBIs since July 6 that did not come on a home run or sacrifice fly. He had been 0 for 22 with runners in scoring position dating to July 24, and 1 for 31 in those situations since July 7. ... With his first extra-base hit since Aug. 1, Loney ended slumps of 0 for 14 and 1 for 20.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Max Scherzer's next start was pushed back a day to Monday to give the ace right-hander extra rest.

Mets: The team is leaning toward starting RHP Rafael Montero in place of RHP Jacob deGrom (forearm) on Tuesday night at Cincinnati, Collins said. To get him ready, Montero had his outing Saturday night for Double-A Binghamton cut to 29 pitches. ... Injured 1B Lucas Duda (back) recently started swinging a bat again and the club has not ruled out a return late this season. ... RHP Zack Wheeler has been shut down for the season. Wheeler had Tommy John surgery in March 2015 and was unable to make it back this year because of several setbacks in his rehabilitation -- most recently a strained flexor muscle.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Rookie RHP Reynaldo Lopez made his major league debut July 19 and is 2-2 with a 5.33 ERA in five starts for Washington.

Mets: Weather permitting, rookie RHP Seth Lugo (2-2, 2.60 ERA) makes his fourth career start Sunday night and tries to win his third in a row.

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Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

NEW YORK -- Normal is not something the Nationals do this season.

Monday’s pivot from the mundane -- an otherwise run-of-the-mill 5-3 baseball game -- came when Adam Eaton was jogging toward the visitors dugout in the bottom of the third inning when he stopped to respond to New York third baseman Todd Frazier, whom Eaton said was chirping at him all night.

This is not new. The two were teammates on the Chicago White Sox in 2016 and did not get along. Last year, Frazier and Eaton also had an exchange. The one Monday night at Citi Field prompted several members of the Nationals to hop over the dugout railing while Frazier and Eaton were being restrained near the first base bag. First base umpire Mike Estabrook cutoff Eaton who was walking toward Frazier after initially heading to the dugout following a 4-6-3 double play which ended the inning for the Nationals. When Frazier came toward the Mets dugout from his position at third base, the two began their spat.

Afterward, Frazier declined to comment in the Mets’ clubhouse, saying only, “It was nothing.” Eaton took the opportunity to expound on his displeasure with the incident, its continuation and Frazier himself.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Eaton said. “Gosh, who knows what goes through that guy’s mind? He’s chirping all the way across the infield. He must really like me, [because] he wants to get my attention it seems like every time we come into town, he really cares what I think about him. I don’t know what his deal is, if he wants to talk to me in person or have a visit or what it is. But he’s always yelling across the infield at me, making a habit of it.

“He’s one of those guys who always says it loud enough that you hear it but can’t understand it. So, he’s making a habit of it. I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where I’m not going to say the saying I want to say but you got to be a man at some point. So, I turned around, had a few choice words with him. It’s funny, I was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me but as soon as someone held him back then he was all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”

Asked if he is surprised such exchanges are still happening three years after they played together, Eaton said he was.

“Yes, absolutely,” Eaton said. “He’s very childish. I’m walking with my head down, play’s over, I’m walking away. I can still hear him. I’m a 30-year-old man with two kids, got a mortgage and everything. He wants to loud talk as he’s running off the field. At the end of the day, I got to be a man about it. I tried to stay patient with the childishness, but it is what it is. I got to stand up eventually.”

He did, and what could have been merely Game 47 for a struggling team turned out to be something else.

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 5-3, Monday to drop their record to 19-28. Here are five observations from the game…

1. A wondrous, very Mets day preceded the game.

Their general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, held a press conference to announce...Yoenis Cespedes -- already out because of dual heel surgeries -- suffered multiple ankle fractures during a ranch accident over the weekend. Van Wagenen then went on to profess his support for maligned New York manager Mickey Callaway -- for the most part. Last, and most important to writers, three boxes of donuts were in the press box with a note: “Have a great series! -- BVW”.

Things are always a little different in Flushing. That was a problem for the Nationals.

In what could be labeled a “reverse-lock” situation, Washington’s $140 million starter, Patrick Corbin, was outpitched by unknown and often ineffective Wilmer Font, whom the Nationals smacked around just five days ago. The Nationals, as they often do, dragged themselves back into the game after trailing 4-0. A Juan Soto single drove in Anthony Rendon in the eighth to cut the lead to 4-3. Rendon was on base four times.

And, again, it was just enough to produce a close loss. Washington put two runners on with none out against dynamic New York closer Edwin Diaz before Kurt Suzuki flew out, Trea Turner grounded into a fielder's choice and Adam Eaton flew out.

The Nationals drop to nine games under .500 following one-run and two-run defeats. They also fell to 2-14 in series openers.

2. A rough, short evening for Corbin.

He trudged through the night on 98 pitches. Corbin lasted just five innings. He walked three, gave up four earned runs, struck out seven.

His night was a mess early. Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso homered in the first inning. Two walks in the third -- one with two outs -- led to two more runs scoring. He zipped through the fourth and fifth before being removed.

Corbin has endured two blowups this season in an otherwise quality first two months: Monday and April 29 against St. Louis. The latter outing featured four walks and a homer allowed against one of the league’s better offenses. Monday’s bad outing came against a Mets lineup which did not feature Robinson Cano to start and entered the evening 21st in wOBA.

Bad timing. Bad night.

3. Tanner Rainey made his Nationals debut Monday. He was interesting.

Rainey gave up a hustle double to pinch-hitter Cano -- yes, hustle and Cano -- but otherwise showed a sharp fastball-slider combination.

Rainey was the return for Tanner Roark in the offseason trade that sent Roark to Cincinnati during the Winter Meetings.

He has command trouble. He also throws 98-100 mph with ease. Asked in spring training where that velocity comes from, Rainey said his legs and weight lifting. No secret sauce. He lifted more, he threw harder. And he subsequently repeated the process.

Rainey’s velocity will always intrigue. The question is if he can command his two-pitch arsenal enough to become an actual bullpen weapon. The baseline tools are there.

4. A shuffle in the relief corps is coming.

Tony Sipp (oblique) was activated from the 10-day injured list Monday. Dan Jennings was designated for assignment. That experiment is over. Jennings signed a minor-league contract April 15. He was in the majors April 30. He’s gone less than a month later. He did not pitch well.

The Nationals claimed right-handed Javy Guerra off waivers Monday. Guerra was designated for assignment by Toronto. Guerra pitched 14 innings for the Blue Jays this season, with a 3.86 ERA and 3.17 FIP. In other words, distinctly better than most in the Nationals bullpen.

Washington expects Guerra to arrive in New York on Tuesday. Kyle McGowin is likely to be sent back to Triple-A Fresno to make room. So, two fresh pitchers in the bullpen early in the week.

Trevor Rosenthal should also be back shortly. He is expected to throw an inning for Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday. Rainey will likely be sent back to the minor leagues to make room there.

And, a situation in West Palm Beach, Fla., to keep an eye on: reliever Austen Williams had to be shut down to allow his shoulder to rest. Williams threw 40 pitches at the spring training facility the first week of May, when he appeared on his way back from the 10-day injured list. However, he has stopped throwing after experiencing further shoulder soreness. He was placed on the injured list April 19 because of a sprained right AC joint.

5. Matt Adams worked with the team on the field Monday, which he expects to do the next two days.

He’s on the verge of being activated before the week is out.

“I watched him [Monday] and he took some really good swings,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he feels [Tuesday]. I’m assuming that he might be a little sore, because he did take some swings and he’s going to continue to do baseball activities [Monday]. But we’ll see how he feels.”

Adams’ 15-day absence has handcuffed Martinez in multiple ways. Take Sunday. Right-handed slider-thrower Steve Cishek on the mound. Left-handed hitters’ OPS against Cishek is 143 points higher than right-handers. But, no Adams meant no left-handed pinch-hitter.

Those issues should be over soon.

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