Nats rally in ninth, but fall 6-2 in 10 innings (updated)

A last-of-the-ninth rally nearly made up for eight innings of Nationals offensive struggles, but an out-of-contention club playing only for pride (and to stay in fourth place in the National League East) opened a five-game holiday weekend series with another loss.

The Mets tallied four times in the 10th inning off Austin Voth for a 6-2 victory that extended Washington's losing streak to six games.

"The guys are competing," manager Davey Martinez said in his postgame Zoom session with the media. "Now we've gotta finish. We gotta start winning some of these games."

Juan Soto's solo homer leading off the home ninth started the Nats' scoring after eight fruitless frames. Soto ripped a 97 mph first-pitch four-seamer from Edwin Díaz just over the wall in left for his 24th homer of the season. After Josh Bell struck out, Ryan Zimmerman walked on four pitches and Riley Adams doubled to right-center, scoring pinch-runner Andrew Stevenson, who crashed into catcher Chance Sisco, with Adams advancing to third on a throwing error and Sisco departing the game.

"Typical Juan, he gets up there against a pretty good pitcher and stays on it and drives the ball to left field over the wall," Martinez said.

Carter Kieboom struck out swinging and Luis García grounded out to send the game to extras. All the Nats needed was a fly ball off Kieboom's bat, but they couldn't get it.

"Guy on third base with less than two outs, we gotta move the baseball right there," Martinez said.

That left the game in the hands of Voth, who was called on instead of closer Kyle Finnegan, who was activated from paternity leave today after his wife gave birth to twins. Though Finnegan was available, Martinez wanted to avoid using him.

Thumbnail image for Voth-Delivers-Blue-Front-Sidebar.jpgVoth let Pete Alonso, the first batter he faced, single in automatic runner Francisco Lindor for a 3-2 lead. After Javier Báez fouled out to right, with Alonso taking second, Michael Conforto was intentionally walked. Kevin Pillar's two-run double to left foiled the strategy and gave the Mets a 5-2 cushion.

Jonathan Villar's fourth hit of the night, a two-out RBI single to right, made it 6-2.

"I was making good pitches, it just didn't work out for me," Voth said, adding that his problem was "just probably location."

He lamented not burying a curveball to Alonso and throwing a hittable cutter to Pillar instead of a fastball up or a curve in the dirt that might have induced a damage-free swing.

Jeurys Familia got the final three outs, catching pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra looking at a third strike, getting Lane Thomas to ground out to short and inducing Alcides Escobar to ground to third.

The Nationals, who were held to six hits, fell to 24-39 against NL East foes.

The Nats needed length from starter Sean Nolin to protect an overworked bullpen, and the well-traveled lefty did his part by throwing five innings, though he pitched in traffic for three of his five frames and limited the damage. But Nolin, who was facing the Mets for the third time in three weeks, was undone by both his own arm and his teammates' untimely mistakes on the basepaths.

"It was a couple of innings I feel like had to throw some more hopefully chase pitches and get out of the zone, and some guys didn't chase," Nolin said. " ... I feel like it was definitely a couple of pitches away from being a better outing."

The Nationals wasted two scoring opportunities, running themselves out of a pair of innings in a fashion befitting a team far out of contention.

In the first, Thomas led off with a single to left then took off when Escobar struck a ball well to left-center. But when center fielder Brandon Nimmo caught the drive, Thomas neglected to retouch second base after passing it, and Nimmo's relay back to shortstop Lindor turned into a rally-killing double play.

Two innings later, García's leadoff double went to waste when he got caught off second base, breaking too early on a steal attempt. He was wiped out on a 1-4-5 putout.

"For me, getting picked off of second base like that, that's kind of a mental mistake," Martinez said. " ... Lane in the first inning, not retagging the base, that's something that's taught all the way through in the minor leagues. He understood. In that situation right there, with no outs, you don't even have to go that far. ... That's something I talked to him about right away. I talked to Luis García - he can't get picked off right there in that situation down two runs. And they gotta learn."

Nolin got through a 1-2-3 first inning, but the Mets got to him in the second, taking a 1-0 lead. With one out, Báez dropped a double down the line in right and scored when Conforto's comebacker up the middle glanced off Nolin's upper left arm and into center field for an RBI single. Kevin Pillar doubled, but two runners were stranded in scoring position when Sisco fanned swinging and pitcher Rich Hill bounced to third.

The Mets made it 2-0 in the third when Nimmo drew a one-out walk and Alonso tripled to right. Soto was swung into right-center and barely got to Alonso's dying quail, then it bounced behind him and down the line. Nolin hit Báez with a pitch to put runners at the corners and got Conforto to ground out, but ended the frame at 66 pitches.

Nolin was pulled after allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts. His spot in the lineup came up with runners on second and third after García's second double in the fifth, but pinch-hitter Keibert Ruiz popped to second for the third out.

Hill worked six shutout innings, allowing three hits, walking two and fanning four. He threw 85 pitches, 53 for strikes.

Reliever Patrick Murphy got into trouble in the seventh, with runners on second and third with one out after Nimmo singled and advanced on a throw. But he got Lindor and Alonso swinging to end the inning.

Game 134 lineups: Nats vs. Mets
Kieboom making most of latest opportunity to impre...

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