WASHINGTON — The scoreboard painted an ugly picture for the Mets, including three errors committed and only seven hits over 11 innings Sunday night. And yet, here was manager Mickey Callaway’s crew with a chance to steal one against its NL East nemesis.
Mission — and sweep — accomplished.
Yoenis Cespedes’ bloop RBI single in the 12th inning was the difference in the Mets’ 6-5 victory over the Nationals that completed the three-game sweep. The Mets (7-1) have won five straight overall and will now get three games in Miami against the hapless Marlins.
Juan Lagares’ leadoff single in the 12th against Brandon Kintzler started the go-ahead rally, after Seth Lugo kept the Mets afloat with three innings of scoreless relief in which he allowed only one hit and walked three, two of which were intentional. It was the latest strong bullpen performance from Lugo, who had thrown two shutout innings in relief against the Phillies on Tuesday. Jacob Rhame earned his first major league save with a scoreless 12th.
With seven victories in his first eight games, Callaway tied Joe Torre’s start in 1977 as the best in club history for a new manager.
Lugo sent the game to extra innings by striking out Pedro Severino with the bases loaded in the ninth, after Bryce Harper had walked leading off the inning and advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt.
Jerry Blevins entered in the eighth to face Harper with the go-ahead run at first base and picked off Anthony Rendon to end the inning. With Harper set to lead off the next inning, Callaway was forced to remove Blevins for a pinch hitter to begin the ninth.
Robert Gsellman came within a pitch of escaping the seventh with the lead, but Michael A. Taylor delivered an RBI single to tie it 5-5. Harper walked leading off the inning and Howie Kendrick’s single over Amed Rosario’s glove furthered the threat. Taylor delivered with two outs, ensuring a Matt Harvey no-decision.
Harvey slogged through five innings and survived with the lead. Overall, the right-hander allowed four earned runs on nine hits with one walk, departing after 85 pitches. It came after Harvey pitched five scoreless innings against the Phillies on Tuesday in his first start and allowed only one hit.
This one was dicey for Harvey, who allowed an RBI single to Trea Turner that cut the Nationals’ deficit to 5-4 with two outs in the fifth. Harvey received a break when Turner kept running on Taylor’s squib that Adrian Gonzalez fielded and was tagged out at the plate to end the inning.
Asdrubal Cabrera blasted a solo homer in the fifth that extended the Mets’ lead to 5-3. Tanner Roark lasted through the inning and was removed after allowing five earned runs on five hits with four walks and nine strikeouts.
Harvey survived a hanging slider that Rendon just missed hitting for a grand slam in the fourth — the ball crashed into the wind and was caught by Cespedes in deep left field to end the inning. But the Nationals pulled within 4-3 in the inning when Harvey mishandled Roark’s soft grounder with two outs for an error. Pedro Severino’s double had put runners on second and third.
Roark got two quick outs in the third before losing the strike zone and walking Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier and Cabrera in succession. After receiving a mound visit, Roark threw an 89 mph fastball that Gonzalez launched over the right-field fence for his first homer with the Mets and sixth career grand slam.
It was the second grand slam in the series for the Mets — Bruce connected for one on Thursday in the seventh inning against Kintzler to help spoil the Nationals’ home opener.
Harper’s two-run rocket put Harvey in a 2-0 hole in the first. The homer was Harper’s sixth of the season and second in as many games. Rendon singled in the inning before Harper crushed a 93 mph fastball into the Nationals bullpen.