Nats’ slump continues against Mets

Washington hit the road nearly two weeks ago with high hopes. Coming off a 4-2 home stand, they were within two games of the .500 mark, but won only three of nine games against not-particularly-formidable teams. Returning home for four games against their division rivals, the Mets, the Nats needed to right the ship. Instead, a couple of low-scoring nail-biters turned into lopsided Mets wins, thanks to 10th-inning meltdowns by the Nats’ bullpen. Washington now finds itself in fourth place in the division at 39-45, trailing the Mets by three games, and will need wins Wednesday and Thursday to split the series with New York.

Wood gets the call

To the delight of Nationals fans, outfielder James Wood made his much-anticipated debut in D.C. on Monday with a hit and a walk. He was 90 feet away from scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth when Jacob Young lined out sharply to right to end the inning. But Wood went 0 for 3 Tuesday, and while nobody is going to miss Eddie Rosario, who was released to make room for Wood on the roster, Wood’s two-game batting average of .143 looks eerily familiar.

Herz gets hosed

Washington squandered another terrific pitching performance by rookie lefty DJ Herz on Tuesday. Herz went five and two-thirds innings, walked none and fanned 10. But the 2-1 lead he left with evaporated in the eighth when the suddenly hittable Hunter Harvey gave up a pair of hits and a run. The 2-2 tie was thoroughly broken in the 10th, when Robert Garcia surrendered four hits and five runs.

Where are the bats?

The Mets series concludes with a night game Wednesday and a mid-day July 4 game. Washington’s expected starters, Mitchell Parker (5-4, 3.32) and Jake Irvin (6-6, 3.03), should give the Nats a chance to win, but the team’s ineffective offense (11th in the NL in team batting average at .236) needs to do more.

Cardinals coming

The St. Louis Cardinals, who have surged to a 44-40 record after a slow start this season, come to town for four games Friday through Monday. The good news: the Cards’ offense rivals the Nats’ for futility. St. Louis is 10th in the NL, batting .239 as a team.

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