WASHINGTON - Bryce Harper's triple drove home the tying run in the 10th inning and Ryan Zimmerman scored the game-winner on a wild pitch later in the 10th as the Washington Nationals rallied twice after blowing a ninth-inning lead for a 5-4 win over the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Owners of the best record in the National league, the Nationals (52-36) have alternated wins and losses over their last eight games. They also have defeated their division rival in five of seven games this season.
The Mets (46-44) have lost a season-high five straight games and fell seven games behind the NL East leaders.
What began as a pitcher's duel through seven innings turned into a messy bullpen affair as both teams lost leads in the ninth inning and traded advantages in the final frame. Mets pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin's three-run homer in the ninth turned a two-run deficit into a 3-2 lead, but Danny Espinosa's two-out single in the bottom of the inning tied the score.
Daniel Murphy led off the Mets' 10th with an infield single and two outs later came home from second base on Josh Thole's double, his second hit over the final two innings after entering as a pinch-hitter.
That set up the dramatic conclusion as Harper's hit off Tim Byrdak (2-1) drove home Jhonatan Solano. After loading the bases with a pair of intentional walks, the Mets forced Harper out at home before Pedro Beato uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Zimmerman
Ryan Mattheus (3-1) pitched one-third of an inning for the win.
Thole and David Wright opened the ninth with consecutive singles against Nationals closer Tyler Clippard. After striking out Scott Hairston, Clippard allowed the three-run home run to Valdespin, the ball landing just over the wall in right-center.
The Nationals struck back in the bottom of the frame. Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche hit back-to-back one-out singles off reliever Bobby Parnell. One out later, Espinosa stroked a 2-2 fastball to center, driving home pinch runner Ian Desmond with the tying run.
In line for his first win since May 3 before the crazy ninth inning, Nationals' starter Ross Detwiler allowed five hits over seven shutout innings, outdueling fellow left-hander Jonathon Niese. Detwiler struck out four, did not walk a batter.
Niese struck out eight and allowed only three hits over seven innings, including Tyler Moore's solo home run in the fifth that gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead.
Steve Lombardozzi's RBI double off Mets reliever Josh Edgin in the eighth put Washington ahead 2-0.
The pitchers controlled the early innings.
New York had three singles against Detwiler in the second. However, Jason Bay, playing his first game since June 15, hit into a double play, and Mike Nickeas' infield grounder with two on ended the threat.
Wright's scorched drive to right in the fourth inning landed in the glove of a leaping Michael Morse, who crashed into the wall but held on.
Washington managed only one hit against the left-handed Niese until Moore's fifth home run of the season, a one-out blast to right-center in the fifth, put the home team up 1-0.
The Nationals own the best record in the National League, and Tuesday's game opened a seven-game, six-day homestand against their nearest competitors in the NL East.
After playing three against New York, Washington hosts second-place Atlanta.
Notes: Bay, activated from the 15-day disabled list before Tuesday's game, started in left field and hit fifth. To make room for Bay, the Mets designated Omar Quintanilla for assignment. In 29 games the infielder batted .257...Lucas Giolito, the Nationals' No.1 pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, visited Nationals Park for the first time since signing a contract with the team on Friday. The 18-year-old from Southern California was the 16th overall selection.