Jeff McNeil continued his breakout rookie season for the New York Mets by racking up another four-hit game Sunday afternoon, and Michael Conforto’s three-run triple in the fourth inning gave the Mets the lead for good in an 8-6 win over the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.
The Mets (73-83) took three of four from the Nationals (78-78), who began the season as overwhelming favorites to win the NL East for a third straight season but were eliminated from playoff contention Saturday, the same day the Atlanta Braves clinched the division title for the first time since 2013. New York and Washington combined to win the previous four NL East crowns.
The Mets, whose playoff hopes were derailed when they went 5-21 in June, won the season series from the Nationals, 11-8. It is just the second season series victory over Washington this decade for New York, which also enjoyed an 11-8 advantage in 2015.
McNeil went 4-for-5 with an RBI single immediately before Conforto’s go-ahead hit. It was the third four-hit game for McNeil, who has at least two hits in 19 of 47 starts since he was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on July 24.
Jay Bruce opened the scoring with a first-inning sacrifice fly for the Mets before the Nationals went ahead 3-1 in the third, when Victor Robles homered, Bryce Harper delivered an RBI double and Spencer Kieboom worked a bases-loaded walk against Mets starter Steven Matz
Conforto’s third career triple gave the Mets a 5-3 lead. They added what proved to be valuable insurance runs in the fifth, when Kevin Plawecki (double) and Amed Rosario (single) each had RBI hits, and sixth, when Plawecki’s run-scoring fielder’s choice scored Bruce.
The Nationals closed the gap to 8-6 against Drew Smith in the eighth, when Robles laced a two-run triple and scored on Trea Turner’s double. But Jerry Blevins got an out and Anthony Swarzak closed out his fourth save by getting the final five outs, including a hitless ninth.
Drew Gagnon (2-1) earned the win by tossing two hitless innings.
Wander Suero (3-1), the second of seven Nationals pitchers, took the loss after allowing four runs on six hits and one walk while striking out none over just 1 1/3 innings.
Matz allowed three runs on five hits and three walks while striking out four over three innings. Nationals starter Erick Fedde gave up three runs on five hits and four walks while striking out two over 3 1/3 innings.
—Field Level Media