WASHINGTON — Steve Lombardozzi’s sacrifice fly in the ninth Tuesday night gave the Washington Nationals their first late-inning comeback win of the season, capping a two-run rally for a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.
The Nationals won for the first time this season when trailing after six innings. They snapped a two-game skid and moved back to .500 at 29-29.
Against closer Bobby Parnell (4-2), Ryan Zimmerman led off the ninth with a double to right-center, barely beating the tag at second, and then advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Adam LaRoche singled Zimmerman home to tie the game. Ian Desmond doubled to left-center and Roger Bernadina was intentionally walked to load the bases with none out for Lombardozzi, whose fly ball down the left-field line was more than sufficient to score LaRoche.
Tyler Clippard (4-1) pitched the top of the ninth to get the victory.
The loss spoiled a solid start by New York’s Jeremy Hefner, who allowed one run and four hits over seven innings. Omar Quintanilla drove in both Mets runs with a fourth-inning, two-out triple, getting the chance after the Nationals’ slow reaction allowed a chopper by Jordany Valdespin to become an infield hit and a subsequent throwing error by first baseman LaRoche.
Jordan Zimmermann allowed four hits and no earned runs over eight innings for the Nationals. Washington entered the game last in the majors in on-base percentage and struggled again at the plate — until the ninth-inning rally.
The Nationals made six roster moves before the game, getting rid of two underperforming relievers and putting second baseman Danny Espinosa (batting average: .158) on the 15-day disabled list. Jayson Werth returned from the DL and started in right field, going 1 for 4 in his first game since May 2.
Washington took the lead on Desmond’s homer in the second inning. The Nationals threatened again in the sixth, getting an infield hit by Denard Span and a single by Werth with one out. Zimmerman struck out, LaRoche walked to load the bases, and Desmond grounded to third to end the inning.
Valdespin was the catalyst for the Mets in the fourth. He fouled a pitch trying to bunt his way on, then swung away and chopped it toward first. Neither LaRoche nor Zimmermann appeared to be in a hurry to make a play, and Valdespin was already at first by the time the pitcher was dropping a shoveled throw from the first baseman.
Rick Ankiel followed with a potential double-play grounder, but LaRoche’s throw pulled Desmond off the bag at second. After Hefner bunted the runners over, Quintanilla tripled to the right-field corner.
Quintanilla is hitting .500 (9 for 18) in five games since coming up from the minors after shortstop Ruben Tejada was placed on the DL.
NOTES: The late rally kept Zimmermann from taking his first home loss in more than a year. His last defeat at Nationals Park came on May 17, 2012, vs. Pittsburgh. … With Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg dealing with a slight lat strain, Gio Gonzalez’s next start was moved up to Strasburg’s regular spot on Thursday. Gonzalez will pitch on normal rest because of a day off in the schedule. Strasburg will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday to see if he can start Saturday. … Mets RHP Jeurys Familia will have surgery Wednesday to remove bone spurs and loose bodies in his right elbow.
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