Nats suffer crushing 8-7 loss as bullpen blows six-run lead

Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann received some stellar defense in the first. Ian Desmond made a dazzling stop and throw to get Yoenis Cespedes on a broken-bat grounder up the middle for the second out. And then speedy Michael A. Taylor ran down a deep drive to left-center off the bat of Daniel Murphy to end the frame.

Anthony Rendon ripped a one-out single off Mets starter Matt Harvey in the first. After Bryce Harper popped out in foul territory, Yunel Escobar ignited a two-out rally with a base knock to right. Clint Robinson, starting for the injured Ryan Zimmerman, followed by drilling a 97 mph heater through the hole into right, plating Rendon.

Anthony-Rendon-bat-red.jpgDesmond continued the early momentum, smacking a 98 mph fastball to right scoring Escobar.

David Wright answered in the second for the Mets with a solo homer to deep left.

But the Nats responded again in the bottom of the frame. Taylor drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on Zimmermann’s sacrifice bunt. After Harvey struck out Jayson Werth for a second time, Rendon hit a sharp grounder just inside the bag at third. Taylor scored easily on the play as Rendon was nailed at second base trying to stretch it into a double.

Update: With one out in the third, Curtis Granderson belted Zimmermann’s fastball over Taylor’s head for a triple. After Zimmermann whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, Nationals manager Matt Williams went to the bullpen for lefty Matt Thornton to face the left-handed Daniel Murphy. The bold move paid off as Thornton got Murphy to fly out to center to end the threat.

Zimmermann allowed one run on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts. He threw 100 pitches.

Escobar singled and Robinson walked to start the bottom of the frame. Then Desmond dropped a sacrifice bunt, which Harvey fumbled. His throw was late to third, leaving the bases loaded with no outs.

After Wilson Ramos struck out, Taylor ripped a 97 mph heater to center. As Cespedes charged the sharp grounder, it bounced over his glove, rolling all the way to the wall. Escobar, Robinson and Desmond scored easily with Taylor flying around behind them to clear the bases.

Taylor was only awarded one RBI on the thrilling play, which gave the Nats a six-run advantage.

The botched play cost Harvey seven earned runs, matching his career high for a start.

The Mets added a run in the seventh on Wilmer Flores’ RBI single off Blake Treinen. Williams then went to Felipe Rivero, who issued back-to-back walks, plating another run.

Drew Storen followed Rivero to the mound to face Cespedes with the bases loaded and two outs. Cespedes turned on a fastball, smoking it into the left field corner for a three-run double to pull the Mets within one.

Update II: Storen walked Murphy, Wright and Lucas Duda as Cespedes crossed the plate to tie the game. Storen finally got Travis d’Arnaud to fly out to end the inning. Only seven of Storen’s 22 pitches in the frame were strikes.

The Mets scored six times in the dreadful inning on three hits and six walks.

Update III: Jonathan Papelbon started the eighth with two quick outs, but then pinch-hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis blasted a solo homer to deep right-center to give the Mets the lead.

Update IV: Mets right-hander Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect eighth and closer Jeurys Familia closed out the Nats in the ninth.

The Mets beat the Nationals 8-7.

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