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Lucas Duda homers twice as Mets beat Nats, 3-2, and move within one game of first place

New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda receives

New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda receives congratulations from his teammates after his solo homer to right in the bottom of the fourth inning during a game against the Washington Nationals on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015 at Citi Field. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The trade deadline is behind them and the new acquisitions are in the house. Slugger Yoenis Cespedes was the latest pickup to make his Mets debut.

The band is all here. Now it's time for the team to play.

The Mets moved to within one game of NL East-leading Washington by beating the Nationals, 3-2, Saturday night on Lucas Duda's go-ahead double in the eighth before a sellout crowd of 42,996 on Fireworks Night. It was the second-largest Mets crowd ever at Citi Field.

The Mets, who beat Washington in 12 innings Friday night, can move into a virtual tie for the division lead with a victory Sunday night in a nationally televised game. Noah Syndergaard will face Jordan Zimmermann.

"These last two days have been ridiculous," Duda said.

Duda drove in three runs with two home runs and his go-ahead double, which came after Nationals manager Matt Williams inexplicably intentionally walked Cespedes to pitch to Duda. He has eight home runs in his last seven games and 20 for the season. His last eight hits before the double were home runs.

"I was surprised," Cespedes said through a translator. "I didn't think for a minute they were going to walk me."

Perhaps it was Cespedes' presence rather than Duda's production that scared off Williams. Said Duda: "It's nice to have him in the lineup, that's for sure."

Cespedes, the big bat the Mets acquired Friday, was greeted with a standing ovation. He was 0-for-3 but drew that key walk.

After Duda tied the score at 2-2 by hitting an opposite-field homer on Joe Ross' first pitch of the seventh, Curtis Granderson led off the eighth with a double off former Yankee Matt Thornton (1-1). Daniel Murphy grounded to the pitcher before Cespedes was intentionally walked. Duda lined a one-hop double off the leftfield wall and Granderson scored to make it 3-2.

"I've been in Matt's shoes and that's not a good feeling," manager Terry Collins said of his Nationals counterpart. "When you've got a guy we brought in and one of the great hitters in the game and you've got to walk him to get to a guy who's red-hot . . . That's what we're hoping to do is put some guys in the middle of that lineup -- that you've got bats throughout that can produce some runs."

Jeurys Familia, who had blown his previous three save opportunities, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 28th save. After the last out -- a strikeout of Michael Taylor -- the supercharged crowd practically blew the doors off Citi Field.

"We're very, very excited," Collins said. "We've got one of our guys going [Sunday night] who's been pitching his brains out. We're going to go out there with the same attitude we've had. [Sunday night's] a big game. We can really get right where we want to be."

Jacob deGrom and the Mets fell behind 2-0 in the first inning on Ian Desmond's two-out, bases-loaded single. But deGrom regrouped to go six innings, allowing six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. It all took a season-high 117 pitches.

For the first 32/3 innings, the Mets had only Duda's walk off Ross. Duda picked up the first hit, too -- a long solo home run into the bleachers in right-center that made it 2-1.

Cespedes received a standing ovation before grounding to short in the first inning, though it wasn't as big as the one Wilmer Flores received in the second.

Flores, who hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning in the Mets' 2-1 win Friday night, has become Flushing fan favorite No. 1 since his tearful reaction to (almost) getting traded Wednesday night. He nearly hit a two-run homer this time. But it was caught at the wall in left.


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