NEW YORK (AP) Brandon Nimmo homered and drove in three runs as the New York Mets kept their NL East hopes going for the moment, beating the Washington Nationals 4-2 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
The Atlanta Braves began the day with a magic number of one for winning the division after sweeping a three-game series from the Mets over the weekend.
The Mets now need to win their final two games and have the Braves lose their last two at Miami to win the NL East for the first time since 2015. Otherwise, the Mets would host a best-of-three wild-card playoff series this weekend and the Braves would get a bye.
If the Mets remain alive for the division, Jacob deGrom may pitch Wednesday's regular-season finale but manager Buck Showalter was not ready to announce a decision.
''We'll see, stay tuned,'' Showalter said. ''We'll see how the circumstances change in the next hour or two. We'll see. We'll be ready to go a lot of different ways.''
The playoff-bound Mets led the division for 175 days, held a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 and led by seven games on Aug. 10 - three days after taking four of five from Atlanta at home.
''We pay just attention here to the game we're playing right now and I think more important just win the game,'' said New York starter Carlos Carrasco.
The doubleheader at Citi Field began in raw conditions in front of a sparse crowd that included a few dogs as part of a ''Bark in the Park'' promotion and endured rain for the final three innings.
When the final out of the opener was made, Atlanta held an early 1-0 lead at Miami. As first pitch of the nightcap approached, the Braves led 2-1.
Nimmo hit his 15th homer, a two-run single and a double. Jeff McNeil opened a three-point lead on Dodgers star Freddie Freeman in the NL batting race with two hits to raise his average to .328.
Carrasco allowed two runs on five hits in four-plus innings. Adam Ottavino (6-3) pitched 1 2/3 innings and Edwin Diaz got four outs for his 32nd save.
''He gave us what he had,'' Showalter said. ''In a little different situation, we probably let him continue but we had a lot of people available.''
Riley Adams hit a two-run homer for Washington, which took two of three at the Mets last month.
The Nationals took their 105th loss and officially clinched the worst record in the NL.
''I look at the season as a disappointment,'' general manager Mike Rizzo said before the game. ''I've always said that you are what your record says you are, and our record says we're the worst team in the league right now. And it's hard to argue with that.
Washington's Cory Abbott (0-5) allowed four runs and five hits in four innings.
Carrasco opened the fifth by allowing a double to Victor Robles and four pitches later Adams homered to left to chase the right-hander.
STRASBURG'S CLOUDY FORECAST
Rizzo said Stephen Strasburg's status for 2023 is unknown after the right-hander was limited to one start due to a series of injuries.
''It's still a little bit of a mystery,'' Rizzo said. ''I know that he's working hard strengthening his core and the other parts of his body. We're just going to have to see.''
The 34-year-old right-hander has thrown a total of 31 1/3 innings in eight starts over the past three seasons combined. He had carpal tunnel surgery in 2020, then needed an operation to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in 2021.
After his only start of 2022, Strasburg went back on the injured list with a stress reaction of the ribs.
Mets: OF Starling Marte, who hasn't played since Sept. 6 due to a broken right middle finger sustained when he hit by a pitch in Pittsburgh, is still experiencing discomfort. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte still can't grip a bat but also did not declare him out for the opening round of the postseason.
Washington RHP Paolo Espino (0-8, 4.30 ERA) opposes New York RHP Taijuan Walker (12-5, 3.89) in the second game.
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