Mets' Francisco Alvarez, left, celebrates with teammate Jose Iglesias, right,...

Mets' Francisco Alvarez, left, celebrates with teammate Jose Iglesias, right, after Iglesias hit a two-run home run during the 10th inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 1, 2024, in Washington. Credit: AP/Mark Schiefelbein

WASHINGTON — At the start of perhaps their easiest stretch of the schedule all season, the Mets did Monday night what purported playoff contenders are supposed to do: Beat a bad team.

It wasn’t very convincing, though.

They escaped what became an all-around ugly game with a 9-7 win in 10 innings over the Nationals, scoring six runs in the top of the final frame but allowing four in the bottom half. Reed Garrett struck out Luis Garcia Jr. — the potential winning run — for the final out.

The teams scored a combined six runs in regulation and 10 runs in the extra inning. CJ Abrams’ error allowed the Mets to jump ahead in the sixth and Tyrone Taylor’s fielding flub allowed the Nationals to tie it in the eighth.

“A win is a win, right?” manager Carlos Mendoza said.

In the top of the 10th, J.D. Martinez’s three-run home run put the Mets (41-41) on top. With two outs, Francisco Alvarez tacked on the first triple of his career to make it 7-3 and Jose Iglesias added his first homer of the season, a two-run shot.

Tyler Jay allowed four of six batters to reach, leading Mendoza to bring in Garrett to finish off the Nationals (39-45). Garrett had warmed up in the top of the 10th, sat down when the Mets expanded their lead, then got up again when it got close.


Mendoza preferred to stay away from Garrett, who has been pulling double duty — setup man and closer — with closer Edwin Diaz serving a 10-game suspension for having a foreign substance on his hand.

“We’ve been running this guy pretty hard,” Mendoza said. “We didn’t get the last out there and we had to go to him. I’m glad he came in and shut the door and got us a W.”

Garrett said: “You don’t necessarily feel it when you’re warming up because the adrenaline and everything is going, but I think later on after your body calms down and you see where you are, that’s when you figure out how taxing it was. At the moment, no, I didn’t feel taxed. I just felt like I was getting prepared to go in the game.”

That opened an 18-game span in which the Mets will play only clubs with losing records, including the absolute dregs of the National League: Nationals, Pirates, Nationals again, Rockies, Marlins. Then they’ll be within a week and a half of the July 30 trade deadline.

“Any team can win any night,” Martinez said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing the Dodgers or whoever the worst team in baseball is. It’s still baseball. Anyone can win at any time. It’s one of those things you just gotta come out every day and treat every day the same.”

For the Nationals, the debut of outfielder James Wood — one of the top handful of prospects in baseball — made it a celebratory landmark day.

The 6-7, 234-pound, dreadlocked, soft-spoken Wood, 21, was among Washington’s prizes in its August 2022 trade of Juan Soto to the Padres. Now he is one of the building blocks of the franchise’s rebuild. He picked up his first hit in the second inning, a hard ground ball through the left side of the infield.

Wood arrived with a Long Island connection: His father, Kenny Wood, led East Hampton High to a state title in basketball as a senior in 1989. They still have family in the area, so James Wood made visits growing up.

“I used to go back a lot,” he said, “but I’ve been kind of busy in the summer.”

Mets fandom ran deep in the Woods history. Kenny inherited it from his father, and the 1986 World Series championship was in prime childhood baseball-watching time.

“[Darryl] Strawberry and [Dwight] Gooden were our guys,” Kenny said. “So we would watch games every night, watch the Mets every night.”


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