WASHINGTON (AP) Center fielder Alex Call made a pair of outstanding defensive plays in the ninth inning, preserving the Washington Nationals' 3-2 win Sunday and dealing the slumping New York Mets their 14th loss in 20 games.
In the completion of a game suspended in the third inning after a 3-hour, 56-minute rain delay on Saturday night, CJ Abrams broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh with a home run off Dominic Leone (0-1), who lost in his first decision with the Mets.
“He’s been working hard to get his swing flatter, through the zone more, keep in the zone more and laying off pitches," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “When he does that, he can hit the ball hard..
Call perfectly played the carom off the wall on Michael Pérez's two-out drive in the ninth off Kyle Finnegan holding Pérez to a single.
Brandon Nimmo followed with a single and major league batting champion Jeff McNeil hit a fly that Call tracked down just in front of the wall for the final out.
“I was hoping it would stay in the ballpark," Finnegan said. "I thought if it did it was high enough to where if it stayed in we’d have a chance to get under it.”
Finnegan got his eighth save in 10 chances.
“Jeff hit a ball hard," Mets manager Buck Showalter said. "It’s tough sledding right now. Try to dwell on the positive. You’re doing some things to get people out. There were a lot of good at-bats, we just couldn’t get that one to push through.”
New York, with a major league-leading $355 million payroll, fell to 19-21. The Mets went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners.
“It’s not where we need to be," McNeil said. "We’re not playing great. We need to turn it around. I think everybody in that locker room knows that we got to take care of business.”
Call also made a nice running catch for the final out of the seventh on Francisco Lindor's deep drive off Hunter Harvey (2-0), who pitched 1 2/3 hitless innings.
Pérez went 4 for 4 with his second career four-hit game. The other was for Pittsburgh against Milwaukee last June 30.
In Sunday's regularly scheduled game, Max Scherzer (2-2) was to start for the Mets and Jake Irvin (1-0) for the Nationals.
Two of Abrams’ three homers this season have come against the Mets. He hit his first career grand slam April 27 at New York. Abrams also had an RBI single in the fourth.
“I’ve been in the gym," Abrams said of his recent power surge. "Just keeping it simple, hitting my pitch, not getting myself out. Biggest thing is probably swinging at strikes.”
Nimmo hit a tying sacrifice fly in the third on the first pitch of the day from reliever Erasmo Ramírez and doubled ahead of McNeil's sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Mets LHP Joey Lucchesi, who started on Friday night, was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and New York selected the contract of RHP Dennis Santana from Triple-A Syracuse for game 1. Santana pitched a one-hit eighth. RHP Seth Elledge was designated for assignment. Prior to game 2, LHP Zach Muckenhirn was added as the 27th man, LHP Brooks Raley was activated from the IL and Santana was designated for assignment.
Nationals added RHP Cory Abbott as their 27th man for game 2.
LHP David Peterson (1-5, 7.68) is to start Monday's finale of the four-game series for the Mets and LHP Patrick Corbin (1-5, 4.87) for the Nationals.
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