By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Curtis Granderson and James Loney came through with big hits to back Robert Gsellman, and the New York Mets got another gritty start from an unheralded rookie in their banged-up rotation to beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 on Saturday night.
Gsellman (2-1) pitched out of trouble for six innings, and inexperienced center fielder Michael Conforto made a diving catch that thwarted a potential Nationals rally in the seventh. New York rebounded from consecutive losses and won for the 10th time in 14 games, moving within one game of St. Louis for the final NL playoff berth.
The Cardinals lost 9-1 in Cincinnati.
Tanner Roark (14-8) allowed two runs and four hits over five innings. He was lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth, but Washington never broke through after that and had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Anthony Rendon had a sacrifice fly in the first. Danny Espinosa struck out all four times up, yet the Nationals still have a 9 1/2-game lead in the NL East over the Mets.
Making his third major league appearance and second start, the long-haired, 23-year-old Gsellman was pumped up after wriggling out of a jam in the sixth. With runners at second and third, he fanned Espinosa and got pinch hitter Ben Revere on an inning-ending groundout.
Jayson Werth singled with one out in the seventh and ex-Met Daniel Murphy hit a line drive to center field. Conforto, however, charged in and made a sensational play that was probably more acrobatic than wise.
Rookie left-hander Josh Smoker struck out NL MVP Bryce Harper on a breaking ball way out of the strike zone to end the inning.
Addison Reed tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Jeurys Familia struck out two in a perfect ninth for his major league-leading 45th save in 48 tries.
On fireworks night at Citi Field, Granderson hit a two-run single in the third on the first pitch after Yoenis Cespedes was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs.
It was the first RBI for Granderson since July 6 that did not come on a home run or sacrifice fly. He had been 0 for 22 with runners in scoring position dating to July 24, and 1 for 31 in those situations since July 7.
Loney, also struggling in clutch situations and dropped to eighth in the lineup for the first time all season, added an RBI double with two outs in the sixth off Matt Belisle. Travis d’Arnaud scored easily from first base when Harper overthrew two cutoff men from the right-field corner.
That ended slumps of 0 for 14 and 1 of 20 for Loney.
Nationals: Max Scherzer’s next start was pushed back a day to give the ace right-hander extra rest. Scherzer initially was lined up to pitch the series finale Sunday night. Instead, the Nationals plan to recall rookie right-hander Reynaldo Lopez from Triple-A Syracuse to make that start _ weather permitting. Scherzer is scheduled to go Monday at home against last-place Atlanta.
Mets: The team is leaning toward starting RHP Rafael Montero in Jacob deGrom’s spot Tuesday night at Cincinnati, manager Terry Collins said. To get him ready, Montero had his outing Saturday night for Double-A Binghamton cut short after 29 pitches. He threw five shutout innings for the Mets on Monday against Miami, overcoming six walks. The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom has soreness and inflammation in his right forearm. … Injured 1B Lucas Duda recently started swinging a bat again and the club has not ruled out a return for Duda late this season. He has been sidelined since May with a stress fracture in his lower back. … RHP Zack Wheeler has been shut down for the season and instructed not to try throwing again until he starts getting ready for spring training next year. Wheeler had Tommy John surgery in March 2015 and was unable to make it back this season because of several setbacks in his rehabilitation _ most recently a strained flexor muscle.
Nationals: The 22-year-old Lopez made his major league debut July 19 and is 2-2 with a 5.33 ERA in five starts for Washington.
Mets: Rookie RHP Seth Lugo (2-2, 2.60 ERA) makes his fourth career start and tries to win his third in a row.
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