NEW YORK — Six outs from getting swept at home by Washington, the New York Mets stunned their NL East rivals with a nine-run rally instead.
Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam for his second key hit of the eighth inning, capping a colossal outburst that propelled the Mets past the Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night and prevented a three-game sweep.
"We just went out and took it," manager Mickey Callaway said.
Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2), who was pitching for the third night in a row and fourth time in five games.
"I think I had about five or 10 good bullets in there. The ball started getting away from me after that. I kind of emptied the tank the night before," Madson said. "But I signed up for it."
The right-hander has made 11 relief appearances already this season.
"Madson's our guy," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "I'm going to put him out there. It just didn't work out today."
Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory.
"It's important to not let them sweep us," Cespedes said through a translator.
Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals (9-10), who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.
Two nights later, New York returned the favour.
"That was really big," Callaway said . "That inning was unbelievable."
Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2, but Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle.
"You can kind of feel the energy building," Conforto said. "Just with the guys saying, 'Hey, it's time to go.'"
One out later, Lagares lined a bases-loaded double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.
"He made a good pitch, but I was ready," Lagares said.
Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto, forcing in another run.
Cespedes connected off A.J. Cole for his sixth career slam — third by the Mets this season — to send fans into a frenzy at Citi Field.
"The exclamation point," Frazier said. "That's the excitement we bring."
Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.
"Just everybody coming up clutch, especially with two strikes," Frazier said.
AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets.
Zimmerman, who began the night batting .121, hit a three-run homer off Steven Matz in the first.
Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Adrian Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder.
After Matz and Paul Sewald combined to retire 16 batters in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh dropped in front of a diving Bruce in right field and rolled past him. Moises Sierra's sacrifice fly made it 4-2.
Zimmerman also went deep in the ninth for his 24th career multihomer game.
NEVER OUT OF IT
It was New York's eighth comeback win — the Mets began the day tied with Boston and Philadelphia for most in the majors. "If we're a couple runs down late in a game, we're very confident we can come back," Conforto said. "It's just huge for us to avoid the sweep."
Cespedes has a .463 career batting average (25 for 54) and 71 RBIs with the bases loaded.
Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon missed his fifth straight game with a bruised left big toe after a fouling a pitch off his foot last week. The team hopes to have Rendon back Friday in Los Angeles, Martinez said. ... Pedro Severino started at catcher for the second consecutive game over Matt Wieters, who is nursing a sore wrist but was available off the bench. ... All-Star 2B Daniel Murphy, rehabbing from right knee surgery, got five at-bats during an extended spring training game Tuesday and was scheduled to play there again Wednesday, according to Martinez.
Mets: Cespedes fouled a pitch off his left leg in the third inning and left foot in the eighth. He was shaken up both times. ... Rather than going to the team's complex in Florida to begin throwing this week, RHP Anthony Swarzak (strained left oblique) will remain in New York receiving treatment when the Mets hit the road, perhaps an indication the reliever isn't healing as fast as hoped. ... LHP Jason Vargas (broken right hand) will be examined Saturday. ... C Travis d'Arnaud had Tommy John surgery Tuesday as planned.
DOWN ON THE FARM
The Mets signed RHP Vance Worley and RHP Scott Copeland to minor league contracts. RHP A.J. Griffin was released.
Nationals: Following a day off, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (3-1, 1.33 ERA) pitches Friday night at Dodger Stadium against the defending NL champions.
Mets: Begin a 10-game road trip Thursday night that takes them to Atlanta, St. Louis and San Diego. The only big league club still unbeaten on the road this season, New York is 6-0 away from home for the first time in team history. RHP Matt Harvey (0-1, 4.80) starts the opener of a four-game series against the NL East rival Braves.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball