WASHINGTON (AP) With a man on and one out in the first, Robinson Cano hit a simple little grounder, destined to end the inning. Well, it probably would have a week ago, when the New York Mets were losing four games in a row and nothing was going their way.
''Right off the bat,'' Washington Nationals starter Jeremy Hellickson would say later, ''I'm thinking, `double play.'''
So was everyone else in the ballpark. Except here's the thing: Backup shortstop Wilmer Difo's relay throw went awry, fourth-string first baseman Gerardo Parra stretched but couldn't hold onto the ball and the inning went on. Eventually, former Washington catcher Wilson Ramos hit a grand slam that helped the surging Mets beat the slumping Nationals 6-2 Tuesday night.
''We made them pay for a little mishap there,'' New York manager Mickey Callaway said, ''and that's what you have to do when you're a good team.''
Noah Syndergaard (3-3) took a no-hitter into the sixth as the Mets won their third consecutive game to get back to .500.
''They understood that we were disappointed in the way we were playing and it wasn't acceptable,'' Callaway said. ''It is nice to win some ballgames and see the fruits of your labor, because they've worked hard for it.''
And the Nationals? They lost for the 11th time in 15 games, fell to 2-12 in series openers and are 16-25 overall. In the NL, only the starting-from-scratch Miami Marlins have a worse record.
''That first inning bit us. It really did,'' Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. ''Like I've said before, we've got to play clean baseball. We really do. Got to give us a chance.''
Ramos connected with a low 80 mph offering from Hellickson (2-2) and sent it out to left for his second homer.
He never should have been at the plate in that spot, but Difo couldn't make the play.
Cano initially was called out, but that was overturned after a quick review. Pete Alonso followed with a single past Difo, and Hellickson walked Michael Conforto to load the bases, bringing Ramos to the plate.
''I probably rushed it a little too much. I didn't realize that the runner's probably not as fast as I expected him to be,'' Difo said through an interpreter. ''What we need to try to do is take a step back, calm down and try to eliminate those errors, because they've been hurting us lately.''
Syndergaard allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings, lowering his ERA to 4.74. The first hit he allowed was a single to right by Difo to open the sixth, and Victor Robles followed with a homer off a 98 mph fastball.
It was Robles' seventh homer of the season - and third off Syndergaard.
''I take the same approach, same focus, to the plate with him,'' Robles said through an interpreter. ''And the things happen - and what comes, comes.''
Syndergaard repeatedly reached 99 mph on his 102-pitch evening and struck out six. ''Pitching is a lot more fun when you just go out there and you don't think,'' he said. ... Hellickson went five-plus innings, charged with five runs and six hits.
Mets: INF Jed Lowrie strained his hamstring while in the minors to work his way back from an injured left knee and will head back to Florida. The 35-year-old Lowrie will be reassessed in a couple of weeks.
Nationals: SS Trea Turner, out since April 3 with a broken finger, began his rehab assignment at Class A Potomac. ... 1B Ryan Zimmerman (right foot) participated in infield practice; he went on the IL on April 28.
Mets: RHP Wilmer Font (1-0, 5.50 ERA) makes his second start of 2019. He was acquired him from Tampa Bay on May 6.
Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (3-1, 3.20 ERA) makes his third start against the Mets this season. Corbin has a 3.75 ERA with 13 strikeouts, three walks and three homers allowed in 12 innings against New York.
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