WASHINGTON (AP) — Francisco Lindor hit a three-run single in the sixth inning to lift the struggling New York Mets over the last-place Washington Nationals 3-2 in the opener of a four-game series Friday night.
New York had lost four of five and 13 of 17 to fall to fourth in the NL East before rallying against the Nationals' bullpen.
The Mets were shut out in 19 consecutive innings, and the streak was on the verge of continuing when Carl Edwards Jr. (1-2) entered with runners on second and third and two out in the sixth. Brandon Nimmo walked, setting up Lindor's single to right-center that cleared the bases.
With all three runners going on a full-count pitch, Nimmo scored from first as third base coach Joey Cora waved him all the way around and the Nationals made a slow relay to the plate.
“Nimmo made the play there,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Joey made a call there. Runs have been a challenge for us, and you take your chances where they are.”
It was the third three-run single in Mets history and the first since Edgardo Alfonzo hit one against San Francisco on Aug. 27, 1997. Relief pitcher Tug McGraw had the other one in 1970.
According to OptaSTATS, New York became the first team to win 3-2 on a three-run single since May 11, 1986, when Cincinnati defeated the Mets on player-manager Pete Rose's hit off Dwight Gooden.
Lindor accounted for New York's lone hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“We haven't been playing to the level we want to play,” Lindor said. “Winning today, we're going to celebrate it and we're going to enjoy it. It means something, for sure, but we have to come back tomorrow.”
Tylor Megill (4-2) allowed four hits and four walks in five innings, but limited the damage to two runs (one earned).
Drew Smith earned his first save in 126 major league appearances. He inherited two runners from closer David Robertson, who threw 40 pitches in 1 2/3 innings, and struck out Lane Thomas to end it.
“That situation, that's kind of what you dream of as a kid, coming in,” Smith said. “Obviously, maybe a clean inning is what I really dream of, but that was all right. I'll take it. First and second, two outs, game on the line, it's a perfect script.”
The strong pitching and Lindor's well-timed hit were part of one of the most upbeat days in recent weeks for the Mets, who started the year 14-7 but fell under .500 on Sunday. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday in Cincinnati with neck spasms, threw a 30-pitch bullpen Friday, and Showalter said the right-hander is likely to start Sunday or Monday.
Still, the game initially looked much like many of New York's latest efforts as Washington took the lead in the first on Joey Meneses' two-out RBI single off Megill. The Mets have been outscored 35-9 in the first inning this season.
The Nationals added an unearned run in the fourth when the infield was drawn in with one out. Lindor misplayed Jake Alu's grounder to shortstop for an error, allowing Alex Call to score.
Washington starter MacKenzie Gore needed 96 pitches to navigate four scoreless innings. He allowed five hits and two walks while striking out three.
Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (elbow inflammation) will make a minor league rehab start Sunday. ... Showalter said LHP Brooks Raley (elbow inflammation) will be activated this weekend. ... RHP Dominic Leone experienced elbow discomfort while warming up in the ninth, Showalter said.
Nationals: OF Corey Dickerson (left calf strain) began a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Rochester. He doubled and scored a run in three plate appearances.
ALU'S FIRST HIT
Alu poked a single the opposite way to left in the second inning for his first hit in the majors, and moments later got his first career stolen base. Washington's 24th-round draft pick in 2019, Alu was called up Monday from Rochester and was playing in his second game with the Nationals.
Mets: LHP Joey Lucchesi (1-0, 4.43 ERA) is 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA in five career starts against Washington.
Nationals: RHP Trevor Williams (1-1, 4.25) allowed four runs in five innings against New York on April 27. Williams pitched for the Mets from 2021-22.