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Terry Collins addresses players postgame

NEW YORK -- Terry Collins called getting swept by the Washington Nationals a “dent” in what clearly is long-shot postseason hopes. Still, the New York Mets manager addressed his players postgame and asked them to continue believing.

“It’s a big blow to us, because we fought hard to get back in this thing,” Collins said after the Washington Nationals beat the Mets 4-1 on Thursday at Citi Field. “We played very well the last couple of weeks to get back in kind of the mix. So this is a big dent. I told the guys just a couple of minutes ago, ‘Let’s go win seven of the next eight.’ We’ll be back in the hunt.”

The Mets are now 10½ games behind the first-place Nats, who have won their past 11 games in Queens. The Amazin’s are 7½ games out in the wild card, which may be even more improbable to overcome because there are five non-playoff teams ahead of them.

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Bryce Harper's two-run homer helped sink the Mets on Thursday.

As for the Nats’ dominance of the Mets, which includes a 25-4 record at Citi Field since September 2011, Collins said: “They just outplay us. The whole difference is we can’t keep the ball in the park and we can’t hit them out. That was the story of this series, for sure. ...

“We know they’re a good team, and we don’t play them very well. There’s no question about that. They’ve been in a thorn in our side in the last two or three years, for sure. They do so many things to beat you. They can all run. They call field. They can all hit the ball out of the ballpark. You really have got to play your ‘A’ game to beat them. And when you don’t, they’ve got enough weapons to beat you.”

Said David Wright: “We just got outplayed -- outpitched, outhit. They played much better baseball than we did these last three days. That’s what happens. You get swept when every facet of the game is played [better] by the other team.”

Dillon Gee gave up a pair of two-run homers Thursday. Still, Collins said what was most uncharacteristic was Gee’s four walks, including free passes to Asdrubal Cabrera and Ian Desmond ahead of homers by Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper.

“I was telling [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen] during the game that I’ll bet you we can go back and look at the last 10 games, there’s been six or seven times where we’ve walked a guy, and then in the same inning someone hits a two-run homer,” Collins said. “That’s what we’ve got to stop. They tell a story, Catfish Hunter gave up a lot of homers, but nobody else was on base. That’s what’s killing us.”

Asked how big the gap is between the Mets and Nats, Collins said: “It’s hard to say when we’re pitching the way we’re capable of pitching.”