Kintzler allows go-ahead run, but Nats bullpen holds up well

The Nationals bullpen held up its end of the ballgame for more than six innings, giving the team a chance to get back in the game. But in the end, it was not enough, as the Mets outlasted the Nats 6-5 in 12 innings.

Brandon Kintzler allowed a leadoff single to begin the 12th inning. The Mets then used a sacrifice bunt to get pinch-hitter Juan Lagares into scoring position.

The Nationals decided to intentionally walk Michael Conforto to get to Yoenis Céspedes. Céspedes muscled a Kintzler sinker into left-center field. The single scored Lagares with the go-ahead run.

Nationals manager Davey Martinez said he was hoping for a quick two outs from Céspedes to get out of the inning.

martinez-rizzo-sidebar.jpg"Exactly. Looking for a double play," Martinez said. "Kintzler (usually gets) a lot of ground balls. Heck, he got in there. He blooped a hit, but he broke his bat. That's what we were looking for. Unfortunately, he's a strong man, so he blooped a hit in.

"Next guy, (Jay) Bruce gets the groundball double play. Kintzler threw the ball really well again today. I think he threw the ball well. He worked on some things today, and he went out there and he threw the ball well."

The Nats ended up falling for the fifth game in a row. The Mets swept the Nats at Nats Park for the first time since September 7-9, 2015.

Left-hander Sammy Solís pitched a pair of scoreless frames before Kintzler arrived. Did he see anything wrong with Kintzler?

"That's the game. Sometimes you have three, four, five, six bad outings in a row," Solís said. "But we are confident in the pitcher that he is and we want him in there in those situations and obviously that's a tough one for him but we pick each other up and we'll be back at it tomorrow."

Prior to Kintzler's arrival, the reason the Nats were in the game was the bullpen. After starter Tanner Roark surrendered five runs on five hits, the bullpen did not allow a Mets run over the next 6 1/3 innings.

"The bullpen was phenomenal," said Martinez.

Shawn Kelley pitched one shutout inning, striking out one. It was the third straight outing for Kelley where he didn't allow a run.

"He's throwing strikes with conviction," said Martinez.

Solís said Kelley keeps the bullpen relaxed and goes out and works on his craft each day to try to get back to where he was prior to 2017.

"Kelley is the most consistent guy out here," Solís said. "Comes to the field laughing every day and he's down there doing his work and getting after it. That's what we expect of him and that's what he expects of himself and it's obviously showing results right now."

Matt Grace and Ryan Madson arrived next, each pitching one shutout inning. Grace struckout one and didn't allow a hit. Madson surrendered a leadoff single by Todd Frazier in the seventh. After Frazier stole second, Madson retired three hitters on fly outs to end the inning.

Sean Doolittle took care of the ninth by striking out two and not allowing a hit.

Solís then had the most impressive two innings from the bullpen in the 10th and the 11th: striking out five, allowing one run and no walks in recording six outs.

"He was outstanding," Martinez said. "I got a lot of faith in Sammy. I do. The more and more he goes out there, the more confidence he gets. You're gonna see Sammy really good."

Solís arrived from the University of San Diego back in 2010 as a starting pitcher. The Nats groomed him as such, with 39 minor league starts.

So with the bullpen tired and having not pitched since April 3, Solís was fresh. And after pitching one inning, Martinez felt Solis could get them two innings.

"That's huge," said Solís of finishing two frames. "After going one I wasn't sure if I'd go another but in a game like that we are running low on arms and came and asked me and I said I felt great. So, going back out there, just attacking hitters getting strike one is huge because you want to set the tone the second inning. In the past I think my second inning has been a little bit of a struggle, a few more pitches thrown, a little inconsistent with my command. So that inning I was grateful to get out of it and get ahead of guys."

So with the Nats having to use six relievers in the 12-inning, four-plus hour marathon extra inning affair, is Martinez worried about his bullpen makeup for game one Monday night against the Braves?

"You gotta consider Max (Scherzer) is pitching, so we'll see," Martinez said. "I'm going to go back and talk to the trainers now and see where we're at, but we feel pretty good about tomorrow."

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