WASHINGTON -- Breaks just haven't gone Washington's way in recent games. But that appeared to be changing in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday night, when a flare that fell in for a double was followed by a passed ball that set up the tie-breaking run against the Mets.
The breaks then began going back against the Nationals. New York took advantage to score four times in the top of the ninth and rally for a 6-3 victory over Washington before 13,568 at Nationals Park.
The Nationals (10-13) now have lost three in a row, and this one was especially difficult. Wilson Ramos gave Washington a 3-2 lead in the eighth with a sacrifice fly, but New York (11-13) scored four runs off Sean Burnett (0-1) in the ninth thanks to a bunt, an infield single, a fielder's choice, a sacrifice fly and a timely two-run double from Daniel Murphy.
"It's a game of inches sometimes," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "We got some breaks tonight, too. It looked like maybe a couple of breaks would finally go our way ... but it turned back the other way.
Jason Bay started the ninth with an infield single just off the glove of second baseman Danny Espinosa. Ike Davis hit a soft single to left, and former National Willie Harris' well-placed bunt towards third base turned into a single as the Mets loaded the bases with no outs.
New York tied it when Chin-lung Hu hit a sacrifice fly, which also moved Davis to third and Harris to second. Josh Thole hit a grounder up the middle that shortstop Brian Bixler grabbed. He spun, looked to throw home, thought better of it and threw out Thole, but the tie-breaking run scored.
Murphy then broke it open with a double down the right-field line.
"Unfortunately, the luck didn't go my way tonight," Burnett said. "[I] just couldn't get it under control. I just didn't get the breaks tonight. It stinks."
After a 45-minute rain delay at the start, the Nationals couldn't hold late leads of 2-1 and 3-2. Michael Morse's fourth-inning sacrifice fly and Rick Ankiel's RBI single in the seventh helped them take a 2-1 lead.
Murphy tied it in the eighth with his pinch-hit homer off Tyler Clippard. But that came right after Washington caught a break, as Jose Reyes was called out at third on an attempted triple after beating the throw -- when umpire Marvin Hudson ruled that he came off the bag, a call that infuriated the Mets.
"I knew Jose can really run, and sometimes you can slide past the bag," Washington third baseman Jerry Hairston said. "I just wanted to make sure, hold the tag, and I think he may have come off for a split-second -- and I just wanted to make sure I held the tag and he called him out."
Adam LaRoche led off the eighth with a bloop double down the left-field line that Bay tried to make a sliding catch on. But Bay just missed and Murphy was a step late covering second, which let LaRoche slide in safely. A passed ball moved him to third, and Bixler came on as a pinch-runner before Ramos broke the tie with his sacrifice fly.
Another bad break was that Washington wasted starter Tom Gorzelanny's longest start this season. He went 6 1/3 innings and gave up just one run on five hits, striking out four and walking one.
Gorzelanny has been a true hard-luck pitcher so far this year, holding an 0-2 record with a 3.97 ERA in four starts. He's allowed a total of three runs in his most recent two starts.
The Nationals' luck finally appeared to be changing in that eighth inning, with the Reyes call and everything that happened in the bottom half of the frame.
Moments later, though, the Nationals' luck turned bad once more, and the Mets pounced on the opportunity to win for the sixth straight time.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.