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Fresh off comeback win, Nationals seek series split vs. Mets

For the Washington Nationals, an 11:05 a.m. first pitch Thursday provides an immediate opportunity to build off an exciting comeback win.

For the New York Mets, the quick turnaround moves them one game closer to getting back Edwin Diaz and their bullpen finally becoming whole again.

The Nationals will look to earn a series split and the Mets will aim to win the four-game set when the clubs play an Independence Day morning contest in the nation’s capital.

Right-hander Jake Irvin (6-6, 3.03 ERA) is slated to start for the Nationals against Mets left-hander Jose Quintana (3-5, 4.57 ERA).

The Nationals overcame a five-run deficit Wednesday night, when rookie James Wood laced the tiebreaking single for his first career RBI in the seventh inning and Luis Garcia Jr. homered twice in a 7-5 victory.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez acted aggressively to secure a much-needed victory. Washington, which entered Wednesday five games out of the third and final National League wild-card spot, had won just one of its previous eight games.

Martinez called upon Robert Garcia, Hunter Harvey and Kyle Finnegan — each of whom pitched in the first two games of the series — to get the final six outs. The trio, who combined to allow 11 runs (nine earned) in just 5 1/3 innings in extra-innings losses on Monday and Tuesday, limited the Mets to one walk on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to go to extra innings, let’s put it that way,” Martinez said.

The Mets were victimized again by their undermanned bullpen on Wednesday, when Tyrone Taylor, Mark Vientos and Francisco Lindor homered before New York squandered a five-run lead for the second time in five games and the third time this season.

The Mets are playing with a 25-man roster until Saturday, when Diaz is eligible to return from his 10-game suspension. The closer was ejected before throwing a pitch against the Chicago Cubs on June 23 after a foreign substance was found on his hand and glove.

On Wednesday, manager Carlos Mendoza tried getting rookie starter Christian Scott — making his first big-league appearance since May 30 — through the sixth inning. However, after Scott retired Keibert Ruiz on a popup to third for the second out with two on base, he gave up a three-run homer to Garcia that cut the Mets’ lead to 5-4.

Adam Ottavino got the next three outs before Jake Diekman took the loss, allowing two runs while getting just one out.

“Where we’re at bullpen-wise, after he got that popup for the second out, I tried to squeeze one more hitter,” Mendoza said. “And that didn’t work, obviously.”

Irvin earned the win in his most recent start, when he gave up one run over six innings as the Nationals beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-1 on Saturday. He took the loss in his lone start against the Mets on May 14, 2023, when Irvin surrendered six runs in 4 2/3 innings as New York recorded an 8-2 victory.

Quintana didn’t factor into the decision on Friday after allowing two runs over four-plus innings in the Mets’ 7-2 win over the Houston Astros. He is 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA in five career starts against the Nationals.

–Field Level Media

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