Nats bats come roaring back during 11-4 thumping of Mets

Down four runs early to Noah Syndergaard, with the Mets lineup all over Joe Ross, the Nationals found themselves in a precarious position in the middle of the third inning tonight, in danger of letting their chief division rivals draw even closer in the standings.

And then came the bottom of the third, at which point a Nationals lineup that spent the last week searching for any hit it could possibly get with a man in scoring position finally decided enough was enough.

Beginning with a five-run explosion off Syndergaard, the Nationals proceeded to score 11 unanswered runs over the next four innings en route to a dominating 11-4 victory over a shell-shocked New York club that didn't seem to realize what hit it.

Ben-Revere-at-bat-white-sidebar.jpgClutch hits came from nearly everyone in the Nationals lineup. Ben Revere had three hits, three stolen bases and three runs scored in the first five innings. Danny Espinosa had three hits and two RBIs in the same span. Jayson Werth reached base three times and drove in two runs. Bryce Harper reached base four times and drove in a run.

It was a stunning turn of events for the Nationals, who during their just-completed 3-7 road trip struggled night in and night out to deliver a big hit when they needed one. In the first five innings of this game alone, they went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position, matching their hit total from their previous five games combined.

That the rally began against the triple-digit-throwing Syndergaard only added to its stunning nature. The Nationals did threaten against the big right-hander early, loading the bases with nobody out in the first, but they squandered that opportunity and left a crowd of 33,109 fearful they were witnessing a continuation of the last road trip.

But then the game turned in the third, an inning that featured five singles, a walk, four stolen bases and a wild pitch. Anthony Rendon's two-out, two-run single to right tied the game 4-4. Moments later, Espinosa's RBI single gave the Nationals the lead for good.

The beneficiary of all that support was Ross, who for three innings was beat up by the Mets to the tune of four runs on a career-worst nine hits. But then came a rare mound visit from manager Dusty Baker that didn't involve a pitching change, and Ross proceeded to retire the next nine batters he faced, salvaging a once-wayward start.

Ross wound up departing after the sixth, having still allowed only those four early runs to put himself in line for the win.

With the victory, the Nationals (45-32) increased their lead over the Mets to four games, though the idle Marlins moved into sole possession of second place, now 3 1/2 games back.

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