WASHINGTON (AP) — A few cheering fans caught the attention of Nationals manager Dave Martinez as he finally began his nightly debrief with reporters.
“Thank you for staying,” Martinez said.
They couldn’t have been blamed for leaving early. No doubt, they’re glad they didn’t.
Kurt Suzuki capped the largest ninth-inning comeback in Nationals franchise history with a game-ending, three-run homer, helping Washington score seven runs in its final at-bat to stun the New York Mets 11-10 Tuesday night.
“With the at bats everyone was putting on that inning, I didn’t want to kill the rally,” Suzuki said. “I wanted to come through just like everyone else was.”
Mets relievers Paul Sewald, Luis Avilan and Edwin Díaz pitched through the meltdown, retiring just one batter while Washington rallied for its 20th win in 26 games. The Nationals/Expos franchise had never won a game after trailing by at least six runs in the ninth or later.
“It’s been a crazy year,” said Nationals veteran Ryan Zimmerman, who hit a two-run pinch double during the rally. “That’s the only way to sum it up. For me, for the team, for everyone. It kind of fits into the narrative, I guess.”
New York led 10-4 after scoring five runs in the top of the ninth. Wilson Ramos extended his hitting streak to 26 games and Pete Alonso crushed his 44th homer to put the Mets in position for a win over the current leaders in the NL wild-card hunt.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway lifted reliever Seth Lugo after he retired all three hitters he faced in the eighth. Lugo routinely gets six outs per outing, but Callaway thought the lead was safe enough to go deeper into the bullpen.
“We had a six-run lead,” Callaway said. “Major league pitchers got to be able to hold that.”
Sewald allowed four hits to his five batters, including Trea Turner’s RBI double and Anthony Rendon’s RBI single. Avilan allowed a single to load the bases, and then Diaz (1-7) relieved and allowed a two-run double to Zimmerman followed by Suzuki’s blast.
“It kind of just seemed like a bad dream,” Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo said. “I don’t know. That’s hard to do even in a Little League game I feel like, come back from (six) runs down in the bottom of the ninth against guys throwing 99 mph. I don’t really have words for it.”
Suzuki pointed into the home dugout before rounding first base, pumped his fist at second and was swarmed by teammates at home plate. It was his 16th homer of the season.
“The difference was that that team didn’t let up at any moment,” Díaz said through an interpreter. “I was throwing my pitches. I thought I was executing my fastball, my slider and it just happened to be that he got me. He was waiting on that pitch and he hit it out.”
Javy Guerra (3-1) retired the only batter he faced to end the Mets’ ninth.
Washington is the first team to allow five or more runs in the top of the ninth and get even more in the bottom of the inning for a walk-off win since the Red Sox on June 18, 1962 against the Washington Senators, according to STATS.
New York’s five-run ninth was aided when Turner forgot how many outs there were and passed on a possible double-play grounder with one out, instead throwing to first.
The game began as a duel between the most recent NL Cy Young Award winners. Washington’s Max Scherzer allowed four runs and five hits while striking out seven in six innings, the longest of his three starts since coming off the injured list last month.
New York’s Jacob deGrom was in firm control for much of his outing, which ended abruptly in the eighth after Rendon’s infield single and Juan Soto’s two-run blast to right-center pulled Washington within 5-4. In seven-plus innings, deGrom yielded four runs while striking out six.
Mets: 2B Robinson Cano (torn left hamstring) was activated from the injured list less than a month after suffering what had the potential to be a season-ending injury. “I don’t want to say that I’m surprised because I worked really hard,” Cano said. “I’m just happy to be back right now.”
Nationals: An MRI revealed OF Adam Eaton has a bone bruise near his right knee. Eaton, who was injured Wednesday and left Monday’s game after two innings when his knee stiffened, was available to pinch hit.
Scherzer couldn’t offer much of a perspective on Suzuki’s homer. He was holed up in the video room and, sticking with superstition, didn’t come out to witness any of the comeback.
“I wasn’t watching and things were happening,” Scherzer said. “Don’t all the sudden jump on the bandwagon. If you weren’t watching before, why start watching?”
Washington recalled INF Wilmer Difo from Triple-A Fresno and OF Michael A. Taylor from Double-A Harrisburg. Difo hit .300 with four homers and 30 RBIs after his mid-May demotion, while Taylor hit .248 with nine homers and 35 RBIs in 57 games for Harrisburg.
New York promoted Bryn Alderson, son of former general manager Sandy Alderson, to professional scouting director and Jeff Lebow to assistant director of professional scouting. Lebow joined the Mets’ organization in 2011, while Alderson did in 2012.
Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (9-7, 4.41 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA in four starts against Washington this season, is set to start for New York.
Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (8-6, 3.80), who is 8-0 with a 3.21 ERA in his last 16 starts, takes the hill as Washington concludes an eight-game homestand.
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