NEW YORK -- Fifty-six minutes after the Washington Nationals
completed the win that put them a season-high six games over .500, Jayson Werth
left the shower and sauntered to his locker, the perfect symbol of a team that might have waited too long to kick into gear this season.
Werth continued his two-month hot streak Tuesday night, when he went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBI to lead the Nationals to a 6-3 win over the New York Mets
in front of an announced crowd of 20,307 at Citi Field.
The Nationals, who won a major-league-high 98 games last season and were favored by many to win the World Series this year, won their fourth in a row to improve to 75-69 and moved within six games of Cincinnati (82-64) for the NL's second wild card spot.
"This team's got fight, there's no doubt about it," Werth said. "Just might have been a little bit too late. But we'll see. I'm not giving up, that's for sure."
Werth already has been a part of one team that overcame long September odds to reach the postseason. He was the starting right fielder in 2007 for the Philadelphia Phillies, who trailed the Mets by seven games with 17 to play before storming back to win the division on the season's final day.
"We just didn't play that good early on," Werth said of the Nationals. "It's not over. Nothing's over yet. But we're in a bad spot, that's for sure."
Washington owns the National League's third-best record since Aug. 1 at 23-13 and is 15-5 since Aug. 20. Werth has been hot for even longer.
Werth, who missed 28 games in May and June due to a hamstring injury, entered play on July 4 hitting just .265, but in 59 games since then, he is hitting .388 with 15 homers and 45 RBIs. His two-hit game Tuesday was his fourth in a row and his 27th since July 4.
Werth leads the NL with a .548 slugging percentage and is hitting .328, just .002 behind NL batting leader Chris Johnson.
"I think it's been a month, maybe even longer, (where) every at-bat's a quality at-bat," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
Werth hit a solo homer in the first inning and extended the Nationals' lead to 3-0 in the third with an RBI double. He led off the sixth with a double and scored the Nationals' fourth run on Wilson Ramos' two-out single.
Adam LaRoche hit a solo homer in the second inning for the Nationals and finished 2-for-4. Denard Span doubled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 21 games.
Scott Hairston's two-run, pinch-homer in the ninth provided insurance for Washington, which has hit eight homers in the first two games of the four-game series.
A quartet of relievers preserved the 17th win for starter Jordan Zimmermann
, who allowed all three runs, eight hits and one walk while striking out four in five-plus innings.
Zimmermann was chased after Matt den Dekker's two-run single with no outs in the sixth pulled the Mets within 4-3. Craig Stammen, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard combined on three innings of no-hit relief, and Ramos threw out den Dekker and Eric Young attempting to steal second in the sixth and seventh, respectively.
"Those three guys coming in from the 'pen kind of saved me," Zimmermann said.
Rafael Soriano picked up his 40th save by working around a leadoff single in the ninth.
The Mets (64-79) have lost seven of their last nine.
Justin Turner was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored before he departed with tightness in his right hamstring. Rookie catcher Travis d'Arnaud went 2-for-4.
Mets starter Dillon Gee fell to 11-10 after allowing four runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. Gee walked none and struck out five. It was only the fifth time in his last 19 starts that Gee has allowed more than three runs.
"Balls were up in the middle of the plate and (the Nationals) are hitting them out of here like this is a bandbox," Mets manager Terry Collins said "When you can hit them that good, you're making pitches in some bad spots."
NOTES: The Mets will host the Nationals on Opening Day next March 31, according to the 2014 schedule released Tuesday. The two teams have played on Opening Day six times, though just once since the Nationals moved from Montreal after the 2004 season. ... The Mets recalled SS Ruben Tejada from Triple-A Las Vegas, whose season ended Saturday. By waiting until Tuesday to recall Tejada, the Mets ensured he would not hit free agency until the end of the 2017 season. ... Mets RHP Bobby Parnell (herniated neck disk) and LHP Scott Rice (hernia) each underwent successful surgery Tuesday. ... Nationals LF Bryce Harper (inflammation in his left hip) took batting practice and is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday. Harper hasn't played since Friday. ... LaRoche committed two errors on the same play in the fifth inning when he dropped Zimmermann's pickoff throw to first. Eric Young raced to second, where LaRoche's throw clipped off the glove of Ian Desmond and went into center field.
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