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Scherzer wins in return, Mets score 8 in 5th to beat Nats 8-2 for Sunday split

WASHINGTON (AP) — Max Scherzer pitched five steady innings in his return from neck spasms and the New York Mets finally broke loose for eight runs in the fifth to beat the Washington Nationals 8-2 on Sunday.

Slumping outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha both had two hits and two RBIs during New York's biggest inning this season.

“It’s just nice to get some runs and get Max some run support," Canha said. "We know if we can give Max some runs, (it) gives us a good chance. I felt like our good ABs finally turned into something and we cashed them in.”

After losing 3-2 hours earlier in the completion of a game suspended Saturday because of rain, the $355 million Mets (20-21) improved to 6-14 in their last 20.

“You pull so hard for them because I see all the things they do and how much they want it," Mets manager Buck Showalter said. "Sometimes it’s just hard to get in the flow of it at this level where the pitchers and other teams are the best players in the world. We put a lot of good things together there. It was good to see. Mark had a big day for us.”

The 38-year-old Scherzer (3-2) allowed one run and two hits against his former team, striking out six and walking two. He threw 83 pitches, 50 for strikes, and lowered his ERA to 4.88.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner was scratched from his scheduled start last Tuesday in Cincinnati due to neck spasms.

“I’ve been battling that lat, back injury, scapula, kind of all that," Scherzer said. "Maybe the neck spasms were a blessing in disguise to finally get that fully rested, fully healed."

Scherzer is 3-0 with a 2.78 ERA in his past four starts against Washington, and his 40 wins at Nationals Park are third all-time behind Stephen Strasburg (54) and Gio Gonzalez (41).

In the completion of Saturday’s game, suspended in the third inning after a rain delay that lasted 3 hours, 56 minutes, Washington center fielder Alex Call made a pair of outstanding defensive plays in the ninth to preserve a 3-2 win.

CJ Abrams broke a 2-all tie in the seventh with a home run off Dominic Leone (0-1), who lost in his first decision with the Mets.

Call perfectly played the carom off the wall on Michael Pérez’s two-out drive in the ninth off Kyle Finnegan, holding Pérez to a single.

Brandon Nimmo followed with a single and 2022 big league batting champion Jeff McNeil hit a long fly that Call tracked down just in front of the wall for the final out.

“I was hoping it would stay in the ballpark,” Finnegan said. “I thought if it did it was high enough to where if it stayed in we’d have a chance to get under it.”

Finnegan notched his eighth save in 10 chances.

Call also made a nice running catch for the final out of the seventh on Lindor’s deep drive off Hunter Harvey (2-0), who pitched 1 2/3 hitless innings.

Two of Abrams’ three homers this season have come against the Mets. He hit his first career grand slam April 27 at New York. Abrams went 4 for 8 in the two games with a double, a homer and four RBIs.

“I’ve been in the gym,” Abrams said of his recent power surge. “Just keeping it simple, hitting my pitch, not getting myself out. Biggest thing is probably swinging at strikes.”

Pérez went 4 for 4 in his second career four-hit game. The other was for Pittsburgh against Milwaukee last June 30.

Down 1-0 in the nightcap, the Mets sent 12 batters to the plate and got six hits in the fifth to break the game open. Canha had an RBI double and a run-scoring single in the inning. Marte blooped a two-run single to center.

“I saw the ball really well today," Canha said. "I think that’s kind of the first step is slowing the game down and making sure you’re staying in the strike zone and seeing the ball long.”

Jake Irvin (1-1) took his first major league loss, permitting a career-high six runs in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out six.

“I just made a couple of pitches that looking back on, in the moment, that I wish that I would’ve gone with something different," Irvin said. "Not convicted totally on the pitch that I was throwing. At the end of the day, you can’t do that.”

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mets RHP Carlos Carrasco (right elbow inflammation) pitched four shutout innings of two-hit ball for Double-A Binghamton in a rehab outing against Hartford. He struck out four and walked one.

ROSTER MOVES

Mets: LHP Joey Lucchesi, who started Saturday, was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and New York selected the contract of RHP Dennis Santana before the first game. RHP Seth Elledge was designated for assignment. Santana pitched a one-hit eighth, then was designated for assignment after the game. ... LHP Zach Muckenhirn was added as the 27th man for the second game, and LHP Brooks Raley was activated from the injured list. Muckenhirn allowed one run in two innings, and Raley walked three in a scoreless inning.

Nationals: Added RHP Cory Abbott as the 27th man for the second game.

UP NEXT

Mets LHP David Peterson (1-5, 7.68 ERA) starts Monday against LHP Patrick Corbin (1-5, 4.87) in the finale of the four-game series.

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