Paolo Espino pitched five effective innings, combined with four relievers on a four-hitter and the visiting Washington Nationals scratched across two runs in the third inning of a 2-1 victory over the struggling New York Mets on Friday night.
After a rain delay of approximately 30 minutes before first pitch, the Nationals handed New York its 12th loss in 14 games, thanks in large part to Espino’s crafty outing.
Espino (4-4) allowed one run and three hits after entering the game with a 9.42 ERA in his previous four starts. He set a career high with seven strikeouts, walked none and threw 68 pitches.
Juan Soto and Josh Bell drove in the runs when the Nationals loaded the bases in the third against Rich Hill (6-5).
Javier Baez homered for the Mets, who dropped their seventh straight home game since sweeping a three-game series from Washington two weeks ago.
Hill allowed two runs on five hits in five innings. He struck out eight, walked none and threw 91 pitches, his most since being acquired from Tampa Bay last month.
The Mets appeared set up to score in the first when Francisco Lindor hit a two-out triple to the gap in center field, but Espino fanned Baez.
Espino helped the Nationals score when he opened the third with a single and the Nationals later loaded the bases on a single by Alcides Escobar. Espino scored on Soto’s soft grounder to first base, and the Nationals took a 2-0 lead when Bell singled to left.
Espino gave up Baez’s third homer with the Mets when the second baseman hit a first-pitch fastball to right field. He ended the fourth by striking out Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis and got two more strikeouts in the fifth.
Andres Machado pitched a perfect sixth and Sam Clay did the same in the seventh. Kyle McGowin retired Brandon Nimmo to end a scoreless eighth after allowing a two-out hit, and Kyle Finnegan got his sixth save in seven chances.
Finnegan opened the ninth by walking Pete Alonso, but second baseman Luis Garcia made a diving stop on Lindor’s ground ball to get a force at second. Finnegan then ended things by getting Baez on a double play.
–Field Level Media
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