AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The game-ending homer Mets reliever Carlos Torres gave up to Washington’s Bryce Harper in the bottom of the 13th inning was the latest example of the righty’s problems.
In his last three appearances, including New York’s 5-3 loss to the NL East-leading Nationals on Thursday, Torres has a 22.50 ERA. That’s because he’s given up five runs on three hits — all homers — across his past two innings.
“I know he’s real frustrated by it, and I know we all are, because he’s a huge part of our bullpen, a very big part of our bullpen,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “And right now, he’s struggling about as bad as I’ve seen him.”
Torres (5-5) faced two batters Thursday, walking Ian Desmond to open the 13th, before serving up the 1-0 pitch that Harper drove to the opposite field for his fourth homer of an injury-interrupted season.
“Wanted to put a two-seamer down and away,” said Torres, who struck out Harper on Wednesday. “It didn’t move that much, unfortunately.”
But Torres was bothered more by the free pass.
“I just tried to do too much against Desmond. Got ahead real quick and then just tried to put him away, make him miss instead of making him hit it,” Torres said. “And so then I ended up throwing a couple out of the zone and sure enough, he walked.”
Torres was New York’s eighth pitcher of the game. Washington needed seven, including Craig Stammen (2-4), who worked three innings to earn the win.
After the game, Collins explained that he needed to take out closer Jenrry Mejia after only one inning of work, the 12th, because of a problematic right calf. Mejia said afterward the muscle was “just a little bit tight.”
Washington won despite blowing a 3-1 lead. Desmond had a homer and three RBIs, and Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run through his first six innings. But the righty departed with two men on and one out in the seventh, and reliever Drew Storen proceeded to let both inherited runners score.
The Mets tied it at 3 thanks to a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly by Eric Young Jr., and an RBI single by Curtis Granderson.
Once Storen was lifted for lefty Jerry Blevins, Washington’s bullpen retired 15 consecutive batters.
Mets rookie Jacob deGrom’s five-start winning streak ended. He gave up three runs in six innings.
“I kind of struggled with my command,” deGrom said. “I was throwing strikes, but I wasn’t really locating as well as I wanted to. So it was kind of a mental battle today.”
Mets: About Mejia, whose right calf was taped up after the game, Collins said: “We’ll find out more tomorrow. If it’s still bothering him, he certainly won’t pitch tomorrow.”
Nationals: Reserve outfielder Nate McLouth (15-day DL, right shoulder) got an anti-inflammatory injection and was “shut down for a few days to get everything calmed down in there,” Williams said.
Mets: In the opener of a four-game set at the Phillies, 41-year-old righty Bartolo Colon (10-9, 4.12 ERA) makes his second attempt at career victory No. 200. His last time out, he gave up six runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-0 loss to San Francisco.
Nationals: Washington opens a key three-game series at the Braves on Friday, with Stephen Strasburg (8-9, 3.39 ERA) facing Atlanta’s Ervin Santana (10-6, 3.59 ERA). In 14 career starts against Atlanta, Strasburg is 3-5 with a 4.04 ERA, his highest ERA against any team he’s faced more than three times.
HAPPY B-DAY!: Mets center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who entered in the seventh inning on his 27th birthday, made diving catches in the 10th and 11th.
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