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Nationals’ bullpen flops again

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WASHINGTON—With a chance to gain ground in the NL East race, Drew Storen and the rest of Washington’s relievers had a series to forget.

Storen yielded Yoenis Cespedes’ go-ahead homer in the eighth inning, moments after pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson connected for a tying shot off Stephen Strasburg, as the N.Y. Mets rallied past the Nationals 5-3 last night for a pivotal three-game sweep.

Johnson’s lead-off drive tied it at 2-2 before Cespedes teed off for his two-run shot against a struggling Storen—sending the Mets to their third-straight comeback victory in the series.

“Our bullpen is one of our strengths generally, and it hasn’t been [recently],” conceded Nationals’ manager Matt Williams.

“It’s tough,” he added.

“I feel for those guys getting out there and giving up runs because they’re not intending to, that’s for sure.”

The sweep extended New York’s division lead to seven games over Washington with 23 to play.

The Mets now have won six-straight against the Nationals, including a three-game sweep at Citi Field from July 31-Aug. 2.

Washington’s bullpen allowed 12 runs in the latest series.

Jacob deGrom tossed seven strong innings in a tight duel with Strasburg, who struck out a season-high 13 in his first start since Aug. 30.

He was pulled after Curtis Granderson’s single in the eighth.

One night after yielding a three-run double to Cespedes and walking three-straight batters to force in the tying run, Storen came on to face the New York slugger with Granderson on first.

Cespedes sent Storen’s second pitch into the Mets’ bullpen for his 14th homer since joining the team in a July 31 trade with Detroit.

New York also rallied Monday and beat the Nationals’ bullpen after starter Max Scherzer left with the score tied at 5-5.

Bryce Harper homered twice last night—giving him 36 this season.

He also doubled and scored three times but it wasn’t enough for Washington.

“We’re obviously not where we want to be,” Strasburg said.

“[But] we’ve just got to keep fighting,” he stressed. “That’s all we can do.”

Elsewhere in the NL, St. Louis nipped Chicago 4-3, Atlanta dumped Philadelphia 8-1, Miami beat Milwaukee 5-2, Pittsburgh topped Cincinnati 5-4, San Diego bombed Colorado 11-4, and Arizona shaded San Francisco 2-1.

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