WASHINGTON — Dead arms and deader bats conspired to leave the Mets at a dead-end over three days at Nationals Park.
The momentum of their previous week, when they beat up on the Padres and Cubs — two legitimate playoff contenders — has dissipated and now the Mets have to figure out how to survive a steady diet of NL East competition.
They flunked the first test, losing 5-2 to the Nationals on Sunday to drop three of four games in the series. Now it’s back to Citi Field for eight games over seven days against the Braves and Phillies before returning to Nationals Park for a makeup game and heading to Atlanta next week.
Taijuan Walker turned in a rare shaky performance and the Mets scored two runs or fewer for the fourth time in five games. Kyle Schwarber inflicted most of the damage, blasting three homers — giving him five over the final two games of the series — as the surging Nationals won for the seventh time in eight games.
Schwarber’s third homer of the day, a two-run blast against Jeurys Familia in the seventh, was the finishing touch on a day the Mets managed only four hits against Patrick Corbin and the Nationals bullpen.
Walker pitched to loud contact early and allowed four earned runs on 10 hits over 6 ¹/₃ innings. It snapped a string of eight straight starts in which Walker allowed three earned runs or fewer.
Pete Alonso’s 11th homer of the season, a shot leading off the seventh, had cut the Mets’ deficit to 3-2. Alonso was in a 2-for-18 rut, but had indicated a day earlier he felt good about his approach at the plate. The homer was his first since June 9.
Corbin was removed after Kevin Pillar walked following Alonso’s homer, but reliever Kyle Finnegan got pinch-hitter Dominic Smith to hit into a double play and then struck out Billy McKinney. The left-hander Corbin allowed two earned runs on four hits over six-plus innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Schwarber’s second homer of the game gave the Nationals a 3-1 lead in the fifth. Schwarber homered twice in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader before going deep leading off the game for the Nationals on Sunday.
Trea Turner singled leading off the third against Walker and stole second before scoring on Josh Bell’s single to put the Mets in a 2-1 hole.
Pillar’s homer leading off the second gave the Mets their first run. The blast was the sixth of the season for Pillar, who went to the opposite field against Corbin, just clearing the right-field fence.