The Mets used home runs by Ramon Castro, Jose Reyes and David Wright to build an 8-0 lead Saturday night against the Nationals, but the New York bullpen blew the lead, allowing six runs in the seventh and two more with two outs in the ninth.
The Mets now trail Philadelphia by just two games in the NL wild card race, and have pulled within 5 1/2 games of NL-East leading Atlanta.
Manager Willie Randolph pulled Martinez after six innings and had no regrets, even after the bullpen meltdown.
“I don’t think I’d do anything different,” Randolph said. “I just thought it was the right thing to do. I just felt comfortable at that point in time with an eight-run lead.
“We made it interesting, didn’t we?”
Though his club’s rally fell short, Washington’s comeback was encouraging to Nationals manager Frank Robinson, whose team has been struggling on offense. When his team fell behind, he pulled several regulars and got big hits from reserves Jamey Carroll and Ryan Church.
“You can’t have it both ways,” Robinson said. “The people we had in there at the end did a terrific job. The guys battled back.”
The loss was the fourth in the last five games for the Nationals.
“We played hard right to the end,” Carroll said. “To fight back like that gives you a lot of confidence.”
The veteran right-hander has posted just two wins in his last eight starts, in part because the Nats are averaging just 3.2 runs a game over that span.