By Ben Standig
WASHINGTON – What's the difference between urgency, pressing and panic? That's something outfielder Jason Bay pondered in the Mets clubhouse following New York's latest loss. Unless they snap out of their current slump, the Mets could experience all three soon enough.
Adam LaRoche smacked a two-run home run, Steve Lombardozzi had two RBIs and the Nationals survived two ninth-inning home runs for a 4-3 win over the free-falling Mets on Wednesday night.
The defeat extended the Mets' season-high losing streak to six, five of those coming after the All-Star break and all within the NL East. New York (46-45) fell eight games behind the division-leading Nationals.
The Mets are now 20-25 with one game remaining before returning home.
Currently in third place behind the Nationals (53-36) and Braves, the Mets have played better mostly winning to date with a "laid back" approach, Bay said. Now, times might be changing, though nobody on the Mets side is hitting the panic button yet.
"There is urgency, no question. There is a difference between urgency, pressing and panic and that usually doesn't do anybody any good," said Bay, who had two hits in his second game after returning from the disabled list. s much as you don't want to admit, it's hard to not press when you kind of know that you need.
"Things aren't going to happen. You have to make them happen."
The Mets, trailing 4-1 entering the ninth, tried doing just that. David Wright and Jason Bay homered off Tyler Clippard, but the Nationals closer struck out Jordany Valdespin for the final out.
Mets manager Terry Collins followed with a clubhouse talk, one that Bay said "wasn't really calling anyone out per se, just more of a reality check."
The pitching reality was that Jordan Zimmermann (7-6) shut out the Mets over six innings. Three relievers danced around trouble during the final three innings to preserve the second consecutive win by the Nationals and third in four games.
Zimmermann, the major league leader with 17 quality starts, scattered four hits and struck out four without walking a batter en route to winning his fourth consecutive decision.
"Zim was outstanding," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He just continues to go out there and put zeroes up. I'm glad we scored in the bottom of that inning, get him the win. He's pitched well enough to be 12-2 or something. That was big for the team, big for him."
Wright went 3-for-4, including had two hits in first two at-bats.
LaRoche's 16th home run came off Mets starter Chris Young (2-4) with two outs in the sixth. Andres Torres' RBI-single in the seventh cut the lead in half, but Lombardozzi's two-out double scored two runs for a 4-1 lead.
After blowing a two-run lead in Tuesday's win over the Mets by allowing a three-run home run to Valdespin, Clippard hung on for his 15th save.
"Three-run lead, game like that, I wanted to stay aggressive. I didn't want to walk anybody or allow anybody on base -- stay away from the big inning," Clippard said. "Got a couple of bad pitches out over the plate to some good hitters -- and they got me."
The Mets were happy to see the Zimmerman leave after tossing 95 pitches as they scored in the following inning. Torres singled to right off Tom Gorzelanny, scoring Lucas Duda from second base.
Knocked out after three innings in his previous start, Young allowed two runs and six hits in six innings with the one obvious mistake, the long ball to LaRoche.
"There is no feel good about tonight," Young said. "It's just a mistake that cost us and I'm disappointed."
After Bryce Harper's one-out single, his second hit of the game, Ryan Zimmerman struck out. Young jumped ahead of LaRoche with a 1-2 count, but the first baseman stroked a slider over the left-center field wall before the announced crowd of 31,660.
The Mets scored a run in the top of the seventh, but the Nationals answered to make it 4-1 in the bottom of the inning. Jesus Flores, pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina and Lombardozzi all had two-out hits off Mets reliever Miguel Bautista. Lombardozzi's double to right scored the runners.
Harper singled leading off the fourth, but the rookie's misreading of Zimmerman's fly ball to center field led to him rounding second base instead of retreating. Torres' throw easily doubled the 19-year-old off at first base.
NOTES: Nationals All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond (left oblique strain) missed his fourth consecutive game. ... Young has not recorded a win against Washington since Sept. 20, 2008, pitching for San Diego. ... The Mets have not committed an error in 11 games, their longest streak since July 22-Aug. 2, 2008. ... Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth (broken wrist) took batting practice Tuesday is expected to begin a rehab assignment Thursday. Werth underwent surgery May 7. ... The finale of the three-game series starts at 12:35 p.m. Thursday and pits Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey against fellow All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez.
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