WASHINGTON—As he slogged through a season at Triple-A Syracuse that didn't appear to be leading anywhere, Tommy Milone started rediscovering the control that made him a reliable starter in the majors.
Now, the 31-year-old left-hander is pitching meaningful games for a team trying to get back into playoff contention—and he's making the most of the opportunity.
Milone worked seven strong innings to get his first win in more than a year, and Anthony Rendon homered, as the Washington Nationals moved back above .500 with a 5-3 victory over the N.Y. Mets yesterday.
“I spent probably the last couple of years trying to get back to my old self, and kind of midway through the Triple-A season I felt like I had found it,” said Milone (1-0).
“So I'm just trying to roll with it.”
The Nationals followed their 25-4 blowout of the Mets on Tuesday night by jumping on Noah Syndergaard early.
Bryce Harper hit an RBI single in the first before Rendon hit his 16th homer in the third.
“We got a strong start out of Milone right there and to be able get him some runs on the board was huge,” Harper said.
“Syndergaard's one of the best pitchers in baseball.”
Rendon has six RBIs in two games since returning to the team after the birth of his first child.
Jose Reyes homered from both sides of the plate for the Mets—his 11th career multi-homer game.
On Tuesday night, the longtime infielder made the first pitching appearance of his career and gave up two homers and six runs in the eighth inning.
Washington completed a two-game sweep of its depleted NL East rival, moved within five games of first-place Philadelphia, and thus far has validated general manager Mike Rizzo's decision to mostly stand pat at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Rizzo and the Nationals' ownership are banking on the team getting healthy, breaking out of its season-long funk, and challenging for a third-straight NL East title.
“This is a pivotal time of year, you know? But the last two days, you see what they have done,” said manager Dave Martinez.
“Going forward, we have a chance to do something special.”
Filling in for the injured Stephen Strasburg, Milone mixed his pitches effectively and faced little stress in the second start of his second stint with Washington.
He made his major-league debut for the Nationals in 2011 and has played for five teams since, including the Mets last season.
Milone allowed Reyes' homer in the fifth and two singles.
He struck out nine and walked none in his first win since April 14, 2017, with Milwaukee.
After missing his previous scheduled start because of hand, foot, and mouth disease, Syndergaard (6-2) worked seven innings, allowing three runs.
He also missed time earlier this season with a strained right index finger.
“Considering where I was two months ago and where I'm at now, I kind of went through a roller-coaster of emotions and events,” Syndergaard conceded.
“It's going to take a while to knock a little bit of rust off.”
Batting lefty against Ryan Madson in the eighth, Reyes hit his ninth homer this season to get the Mets within 3-2.
Wilmer Flores homered in the ninth off Kelvin Herrera when his deep fly ball bounced out of the glove of left-fielder Juan Soto and over the bullpen wall.
Elsewhere in the NL, Chicago dumped Pittsburgh 9-2, St. Louis doubled Colorado 6-3, and L.A. Dodgers beat Milwaukee 6-4 (10 innings).
Miami at Atlanta was postponed.