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Sunday, September 1, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Nats 6, Mets 5

By Adam Rubin



WASHINGTON -- The Mets may be weary when they arrive in Atlanta for a Monday day game. They also will be sore with how the series finale ended in D.C.

Bidding for their first series sweep in Washington since 2008, the Mets failed to hold a two-run lead in the eighth and lost to the Nationals, 6-5, on Sunday night.

Jonathon Niese clutched the back of his left leg after the final pitch of a walk to Bryce Harper in the sixth inning and departed with an escort from trainer Ray Ramirez. Niese initially appears to only have suffered calf cramping on the humid night.

Obviously, the Mets -- already minus Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner and Jenrry Mejia to season-ending injuries -- can ill afford to lose another starting pitcher.

Leading 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Gonzalez Germen inherited two runners in scoring position from Scott Rice with one out. Germen surrendered a run-scoring groundout to Anthony Rendon and game-tying infield single to Ryan Zimmerman as Denard Span raced home from second base. Jayson Werth then produced a tiebreaking RBI double against Germen.

Despite allowing 10 hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, Niese surrendered only two runs and departed with a 4-2 lead. With the no-decision, he remained 3-0 -- now with a 2.14 ERA -- in five starts since returning from a rotator cuff strain that sidelined him for nearly two months.

In the loss, Matt den Dekker slugged his first major league homer, while Lucas Duda had a pair of run-scoring singles in his first start at first base since Ike Davis suffered a strained right oblique. (Josh Satin figures to get the start at first base Monday with the Mets facing left-hander Paul Maholm at Turner Field.)

Den Dekker’s homer, which went into the second deck in right-center at Nationals Park off Ross Ohlendorf, was calculated to have traveled 438 feet.

What’s next: Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 8.68) makes his third Mets start, opposite Maholm (9-10, 4.37), as the Mets open a three-game series in Atlanta at 1:10 p.m. Monday.