WASHINGTON (AP) — Manager Mickey Callaway is making all the right moves for the sizzling New York Mets.
Yoenis Cespedes scored Juan Lagares with a broken-bat single in the 12th inning to help the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 6-5 on Sunday night to complete a three-game sweep and win their fifth straight overall.
“I think it’s sending a message not only to the guys across the locker room here, but all of baseball,” Mets starter Matt Harvey said. “We’re having a lot of fun and it’s been a good start.”
Lagares singled off Brandon Kintzler (0-2) to lead off the 12th inning and was sacrificed to second by Amed Rosario. Washington intentionally walked Michael Conforto, and then Cespedes — hitless in five previous at-bats with three strikeouts while battling flu symptoms — splintered his bat on a soft line drive to center field.
Bryce Harper hit his major league-leading sixth home run, singled twice and walked twice, but Washington dropped its fifth straight. Harper walked leading off the ninth but was stranded, then grounded out to end the 10th inning with a man on.
“We’re nine games in. I don’t know my math,” Harper joked. “I didn’t graduate high school. But we have, what, 154 games left? Something like that. Have to turn the page.”
Callaway rolled the dice with Harper on third and one out in the ninth, intentionally walking Howie Kendrick and Trea Turner to load the bases.
“Man at third, sac fly (wins it) and it actually got a couple of their better hitters out of the way and got us probably where we wanted to be in their lineup,” Callaway said.
Seth Lugo (1-0), who pitched three scoreless innings, then struck out Michael A. Taylor and Pedro Severino the end the threat.
Nerve-racking for Lugo?
“Yeah. Yeah, very much,” he said.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit a solo home run as New York earned its first three-game sweep of the Nationals since Sept. 7-9, 2015 in Washington.
“I’m not too concerned,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Play the way we’re capable of playing, we’ll be fine.”
Jacob Rhame got his first career save. The Nationals left 14 men on base.
The Nationals trailed 5-4 until Taylor tied it with a two-out single in the seventh.
Both starters were gone after five innings. Harvey left with the lead after giving up four runs and nine hits, while Washington’s Tanner Roark allowed five runs and five hits. Nine Mets reached base against Roark, all with two outs.
The Nationals took a 2-0 lead in the first when Harper homered down the right field line on a 1-1 fastball.
With two outs in the second, Roark walked three straight hitters before Gonzalez homered into the Nationals’ bullpen on the first pitch. It was Gonzalez’s sixth career grand slam and the Mets’ second of the series.
Callaway said Zack Wheeler will be called up from Triple-A Las Vegas and pitch in Miami Wednesday, when the Mets will need a fifth starter. In his first start at Las Vegas, Wheeler allowed one run in five innings. It would be the first time Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Harvey and Wheeler make a rotation turn together.
After starting his career 0 for 21 versus Harvey, Harper is 5 for his last 11 with two home runs against him.
Mets: LHP Jason Vargas (broken right hand) threw a simulated game in Florida on Saturday. “He did great. Got up and down six times,” Callaway said. “He is progressing nicely.”
Nationals: 2B Daniel Murphy (right knee surgery) needs another week of running the bases at full speed before a possible rehab assignment.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (1-0, 5.40 ERA) starts when the Mets open a series Monday in Miami. He is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in five career starts versus the Marlins, who will start RHP Jose Urena (0-1, 4.91).
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (1-1, 1.64) opposes Atlanta’s Julio Teheran (0-0, 10.13) on Monday when the Nationals host the Braves in the first of three games. Scherzer is 7-6 with a 3.92 ERA against Atlanta.
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