NEW YORK — When the Washington Nationals took the bat out of Yoenis Cespedes' hands in the eighth inning, Lucas Duda let the rest of the National League know how tough it's going to be now to get through the middle of the new Mets' lineup.
Duda hit a tiebreaking double after Cespedes was walked intentionally, leading New York to a come-from-behind, 3-2 victory over the Nationals on Saturday night in front of the second largest crowd ever for a Mets game at Citi Field.
"That's exactly what we're hoping to do, put some guys in the middle of that lineup, where you have bats throughout that can produce some runs," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You kind of like the way we're headed."
Playing for the first time since being acquired from Detroit on Friday at the non-waiver trade deadline, righty swinging Cespedes was walked by left-handed reliever Matt Thornton (1-1) to face Duda, a lefty bat, even though Duda had already homered twice off Joe Ross on fireworks night and has been on a recent tear.
"We have confidence in (Thornton) every time he faces a lefty," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "You get an opportunity to get him back in there tomorrow, we'll do it."
With 42,996 fans on their feet and chanting his name, Duda drove a 1-2 pitch the opposite way to left field that short-hopped the wall. Curtis Granderson, who doubled leading off the inning, scored to put New York ahead.
"It's sure nice to have him in our lineup," Duda said. "That's for sure."
The Mets beat the East-leading Nationals with a late hit for the second straight night to move within a game of first place in the division. New York secured a home series win against Washington for the first time since April 19-21, 2013.
New York fell behind in the first on Ian Desmond's two-run single off Jacob deGrom, tiring the Mets All-Star with long at-bats in a 31-pitch inning. But deGrom held the Nationals through six innings, even without his best fastball.
Jeurys Familia was perfect in the ninth for his 28th save, striking out Michael Taylor with the elated crowd stand and chanting "Let's go Mets!" for the final out.
Ross held New York without a hit until Duda sent a shot to center field with two outs in the fourth. Duda then homered to left field leading off the seventh for his eighth longball in seven days — three multihomer games.
Four days earlier, Duda hit one of his three homers in the game against the Padres off Joe's brother Tyson Ross.
Joe Ross allowed only two other hits in 6 1-3 innings.
"Those guys are filthy — two pretty exceptional pitchers," Duda said.
Cespedes batted third and received a polite standing ovation when he came to the plate in the first. He grounded out in his first two at-bats. But he got a rise out of the crowd in the sixth when he hit a long flyball to left that went foul. He struck out. He was 0 for 3 with the walk.
"The stadium was just how I like to play," Cespedes said through a translator. "It was full. It was full of energy, a lot of screaming fans so I enjoyed that."
Nationals: Denard Span (back spasms) took 30 swings off a tee, his first swings in three weeks, he said. He also said he lifted weights and ran sprints for first time in last couple of days. "I still have a long road ahead of me," Span said.
Mets: 3B David Wright (back) will travel with the team to Miami and continue his workouts. He should then go to the club's complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he will soon begin rehab games. "I don't think there is any question David Wright will play again this summer," Collins said. ... Top prospect Michael Conforto was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Cespedes.
Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann has faced the Mets more than any other opponent, 22 games, and he is 8-5 with a 2.96 ERA.
Mets: Rookie Noah Syndergaard is coming off his best start as a big leaguer. He retired his first 18 batters and finished by allowing only three hits. In his only game against the Nationals, the right-hander faced Bryce Harper three times and gave up two hits.
Duda became the fifth player to homer off brothers in the same week since 2000. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez was the previous slugger to do it, connecting off Livan and Orlando Hernandez June 13 and 17, 2007, according to STATS.