Lugo, backed by HR support, pitches Mets past Nationals 5-1
New York Mets starting pitcher Seth Lugo reacts after striking out Washington Nationals' Wilson Ramos for the third out in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
NEW YORK (AP) Facing a tough trip and a fast turnaround, Seth Lugo and the New York Mets quickly packed their equipment bags. They took jerseys, gloves and something else, too – the glow of a sweet win.
Lugo kept pitching like a playoff-tested ace rather than a rookie, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce each hit a two-run homer and the Mets beat the Washington Nationals 5-1 Sunday night.
The Mets won for the 11th time in 15 tries and stayed within one game of St. Louis for the second NL wild-card slot. They didn't have much time to savor the victory – they hurried to Cincinnati for a 1:10 p.m. Monday holiday start.
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''We can't worry about who we're playing, where we're playing,'' Bruce said. ''We're going to play tomorrow, and have the evening.''
The Mets had worried that storm system Hermine could severely delay them leaving New York, but the expected heavy rain and high winds held off.
''Are we going to get in at 3 in the morning or 4:30 in the morning?'' Mets manager Terry Collins wondered before the game.
Lugo (3-2) limited the NL East leaders to one run and six hits in seven innings, walking none and striking out four. The 26-year-old righty has won three straight starts, permitting a total of three runs, to help rejuvenate an injury-plagued rotation.
Lugo wobbled in the first inning, giving up two quick hits, plunking a batter, making multiple pickoff throws and drawing a visit from pitching coach Dan Warthen.
After that, Lugo escaped a bases-loaded jam by retiring Wilson Ramos on a nubber. He later set down 10 hitters in a row, and left to a standing ovation.
''That was pretty awesome,'' he said. ''That was crazy.''
Granderson drove in three runs. New York set a team record with its 97th home run at home in a season, topping the 96 at Shea Stadium in 2006.
Danny Espinosa matched a career high with his 21st homer for Washington.
The Nationals still lead the Mets by 8 1/2 games with less than a month to go.
''Just win. It's as simple as that. That's the biggest priority. You win as many ballgames as you can,'' manager Dusty Baker said.
''And I still believe that we haven't hit our stride yet. I mean, every team's won seven, eight, nine, 10 in a row except us. So, I still believe our best time of the year is yet to come,'' he said.
Reynaldo Lopez (2-3) gave up three runs on six hits, three wild pitches and a walk in four innings. Called up from Triple-A before the game, he did get his first major league hit.
Daniel Murphy singled and has a hit in all 16 games this season against the Mets, the team he helped send to the World Series last year.
Granderson hit his 23rd homer. Bruce connected for his 29th off Mat Latos, who made his Washington debut after being released by the White Sox in June.
The Mets and Nationals both wore hats honoring New York's police, fire, Port Authority and other first responders during batting practice. The Mets also will wear them next Sunday on Sept. 11. This was their last home game before the 9/11 anniversary and they received permission from Major League Baseball for the tribute. The Mets asked the Nationals if they'd want to join them, and they did.
''These guys need to be rewarded,'' Collins said, wearing an NYPD hat.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (sore elbow) threw a bullpen before the game and Baker said the reports were good. There is a chance the ace could start Wednesday at home vs. Atlanta.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (forearm) is still resting and it's ''very possible'' he could miss two starts, Collins said.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (15-7, 2.89 ERA) was returning to Washington early to prepare for his start at 4:05 p.m. Monday against Atlanta. His start was pushed back a day to give him extra rest. Ryan Weber (1-0, 5.24) was to pitch for the Braves.
Mets: RHP Bartolo Colon (12-7, 3.35) was ready to start at Cincinnati vs. RHP Robert Stephenson (2-0, 3.00). The Reds will honor Bruce before the game at Great American Ball Park – the three-time All-Star outfielder played nine seasons for them before being dealt to New York on Aug. 1.