WASHINGTON — Juan Lagares was ready to contribute when given the opportunity.
“I know I can play. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m here for,” Lagares said after driving in three runs with a homer and a single and robbing Washington’s Jayson Werth of a home run in New York’s 5-2 win on Saturday.
Lagares came in 5 for 27 in his past 11 games, but he provided a jolt for the struggling Mets.
He singled in a run during a three-run first and homered with one on and one out in the third to give New York a 5-0 lead. He’s batting .304 for the season.
“Well, he’ll play tomorrow,” Mets manager Terry Collins said to laughter following the game.
“He had a good game. That’s great. That’s why we put him in there today,” Collins added. “Gio’s not easy to hit, but he’s got a (better) chance to have some success against lefties than he has been against righties, so I let him in there.”
The Mets’ outfielder took a homer away from Werth with a leaping catch against the wall in center.
“I’m not surprised by anything he does defensively, not a thing,” said Collins, who also praised Lagares for his offensive work this week with assistant hitting coach Luis Natera.
“I try to be positive, try to do my work in the cage and try to be ready for the opportunity,” Lagares said. “That’s the key, be positive and keep working.”
Bartolo Colon (3-5) allowed two runs and five hits over eight innings as New York snapped a three-game losing streak and won for the first time in 10 tries against Washington.
Rookie Eric Campbell drove in two runs and had his first two-hit game, and Daniel Murphy added two hits as well for New York.
Colon, who turns 41 next week, came in 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA (17 runs in 17 1-3 innings) in three starts this month — all on the road.
On Saturday, he retired the last 11 hitters he faced.
“He made big pitches, he pitched ahead,” Collins said. “You know, you looked up and you saw he had 70 pitches, you kind of figured he’s on his game.”
Jenrry Mejia pitched the ninth for his first career save.
Ian Desmond had two hits, including a two-run homer, for Washington.
Gio Gonzalez (3-4) took the loss, suffering his second straight poor start.
Coming off a 9-1 loss at Oakland in which he allowed seven earned runs in five plus innings, he lasted just three innings Saturday.
“Arm slot wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Up in the strike zone the entire time, falling behind on everyone. You can see it just wasn’t a good game at all,” Gonzalez said after allowing five earned runs and seven hits.
The Mets scored one more run in the first inning Saturday than they had in the previous 27 combined.
With one out, Murphy lined a single to center and David Wright followed with an infield hit between first base and the mound.
After Chris Young walked, Campbell sent a single to center to score Murphy and Wright.
Lagares, in the starting lineup for the first time since Tuesday, blooped a single to right, scoring Young with the third run.
It marked the 10th time this season that Washington had allowed three or more runs in the first inning.
In the third, Campbell singled with one out and Lagares drove a 3-2 fastball into center.
Desmond’s homer in the fourth pulled the Nationals within 5-2.
Werth’s leaping catch at the wall with two outs in the ninth preserved Friday night’s 5-2 Washington win.
He was the victim on Saturday, however, when he appeared to pull the Nationals within 5-3 with a drive to center to open the sixth, but Lagares raced to the wall, leaped and reached back to grab the drive.
“I know he hit it good,” Lagares said. “I just go like I always go, hard, and try to make the catch.”
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