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Wheeler shaky again as Mets fall to Nats 6-3

JOEY KAMIDE
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — One costly error and another spotty start from Zack Wheeler cost the New York Mets a chance to win a series for the first time this month.

Wilson Ramos drove in four runs and Ian Desmond homered to help Jordan Zimmermann and the Washington Nationals beat the Mets 6-3 on Sunday.

Wheeler (1-4) went six innings, allowing five runs — three earned — and six hits, striking out five and walking one.

Ramos doubled in two runs in the third after shortstop Ruben Tejada’s fielding error with a runner on and two outs kept the inning going.

“We can’t make some of the mistakes that we’re making,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “We’ve got to play solid baseball. We’ve certainly got to play crisper.”

Catcher Juan Centeno’s passed ball led to another run for Washington in the eighth.

For Wheeler, it was the third time he has allowed five runs or more in his last four starts after not allowing more than four runs in any of his first five outings.

“I felt great, probably the best I’ve felt all year,” Wheeler said. “The balls were inside, but I guess not inside enough. I threw a couple good two-seamers in and they just did a nice job of hitting them.”

Desmond’s solo home run and second in two days tied the game in the second inning. Ramos drove in two more runs in the fifth to push Washington’s lead to 5-1.

“It’s been a bunch of bad starts in a row here, so I need to hurry up and turn it around and get back on the right track,” Wheeler said. “Obviously, guys are starting to figure me out a little bit, and see what I have.”

The Mets have not won a series since taking two of three against Miami in New York from April 25-27.

Centeno hit a pair of RBI singles and Juan Lagares had a run-scoring single for the Mets, who have lost four of five. Washington is 5-1 against New York this season.

Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann (3-1) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings for his first win in three starts. It came hours after Washington put left-hander Gio Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder.

Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano shut out the Mets over the final three innings. Washington’s bullpen pitched 13 scoreless innings in the series as the Nationals took two of three. Soriano worked the ninth for his 10th save.

The Mets scored twice against Zimmermann in the sixth, but the rally ended when Centeno was thrown out at second base after his run-scoring hit.

Zimmermann, a .385 hitter this season, singled in the fifth off Wheeler and later scored on Ramos’ base hit.

“It’s all about locating his pitching,” Collins said of Wheeler. “But I tell you, I thought he had really good stuff today. He just made a couple mistakes and they got some big hits.”

Kevin Frandsen’s RBI groundout in the eighth added an insurance run for Washington following Centeno’s passed ball.

NOTES: New York RHP Rafael Montero (0-1) makes his second major league start Tuesday night against RHP Josh Beckett (1-2) and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. … New York’s Daniel Murphy had a single to left field in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. … Eric Young finished 0 of 4. New York’s left fielder is 2 for 24 over his last six games.

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