By: Howard Fendrich
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) Zack Wheeler allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings to win his fourth consecutive decision, and Daniel Murphy’s two-run single helped the New York Mets beat the NL East-leading Washington Nationals 6-1 Tuesday.
Wheeler (7-8) gave up seven hits and allowed a run on a wild pitch, but he was good enough on a muggy night when the temperature was 85 degrees at first pitch. The righty went 3-8 with a 4.45 ERA in his first 16 starts, but is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in seven appearances since June 30.
When Wheeler was replaced after 109 pitches with a man on in the seventh, center fielder Juan Lagares ended the inning with a head-first diving catch of a sinking liner by Denard Span. Lagares was checked on by manager Terry Collins and a trainer but stayed in the game.
In Washington’s sixth, Jayson Werth led off with a double. When Adam LaRoche followed with a single to left, third base coach Bob Henley sent Werth home. Left fielder Eric Campbell threw out Werth with a one-hop toss; the call stood after a replay review to check whether catcher Travis d’Arnaud blocked the plate.
In the second and third, Washington accumulated three hits and four walks off Wheeler but only scored once. That was pretty much how things went for the Nationals, whose Nos. 5-6 hitters, Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper, were a combined 0 for 7 with four strikeouts and a walk.
The Mets scored a run in each of the first two innings off Gio Gonzalez (6-8), with David Wright and Wheeler delivering RBI singles. In all, Gonzalez was charged with four runs and six hits over six-plus innings.
The left-hander put two runners on to begin the seventh, and then shook his head as he walked off the mound when manager Matt Williams yanked him with Wheeler coming to the plate.
After Wheeler’s sacrifice bunt, Drew Storen hit Lagares on the left arm to load the bases.
Storen rebounded by coaxing Murphy into a potential double-play grounder to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera. Mainly a shortstop in the majors, but flawless since changing positions when he arrived from the Cleveland Indians in a deal last week, Cabrera let the ball get under his glove to make it 4-1. Murphy was officially credited with a single.
Not much later, the sellout crowd of 40,686 began heading to the exits.
Mets: Closer Jenrry Mejia “tweaked his back” in Monday’s loss against San Francisco, manager Terry Collins said, calling the reliever’s status day to day.
Nationals: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, on the DL since injuring his right hamstring July 22, has a grade-three strain and could miss six weeks, general manager Mike Rizzo said.
Mets: Wednesday’s starter, left-hander Jonathan Niese (5-7, 3.24 ERA), lasted only four innings in his last appearance at Nationals Park, allowing five runs in a 5-2 Mets loss May 16.
Nationals: The Nationals start righty Doug Fister (10-3, 2.68 ERA). Might second baseman Danny Espinosa get back into the lineup after giving way to trade deadline pickup Cabrera? Espinosa is 5 for 12 (a .417 average) against Niese.
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