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Mets preserve hope of .500 by defeating Nationals 7-4 in first game of split doubleheader

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WASHINGTON — The New York Mets have hopes of a .500 season — for a few hours, at least.

Matt den Dekker singled home the go-ahead run off Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning to help the Mets defeat the Washington Nationals 7-4 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader Thursday afternoon.

Curtis Granderson singled three times and drove in three runs, and Wilmer Flores also singled three times and drove in an insurance run as New York banged out 15 hits and evened the three-game series.

"His swing is so much longer through the zone now," manager Terry Collins said of Granderson, who is having a strong final month of the season with eight multi-hit games in September. "He looks much better at the plate."

Carlos Torres (8-5) pitched the seventh, and Jenrry Mejia worked the ninth for his 28th save as New York prevented NL East-champion Washington from clinching home field throughout the NL playoffs until at least Friday.

Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez (9-10) faced Mets righty Zack Wheeler (11-10) in the second game Thursday.

Washington's Blake Treinen allowed four runs on eight hits in 4 1-3 innings, the shortest of his seven spot starts this season, while New York's Dillon Gee gave up four runs on nine hits over five in his shortest outing since July 24.

"Looking back now, the word that comes to mind is frustrating," said Gee, who finishes the year 7-8 with a 4.00 ERA, after battling a right lat strain before the All-Star Break. "Very inconsistent with the injury and everything we've been through. This whole year just leaves a sour taste in my mouth."

Clippard (7-4) allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Granderson has struggled in his first season with the Mets, but has heated up recently, going 9 for his last 21 at-bats.

"I'm just getting hits," said Granderson, who is batting .229 with 19 homers and 65 RBI. "I really wish it was more complicated than that, but sometimes you find a little bit of grass or a couple of holes here or there. That's really it."

He opened New York's scoring in the first with a single off Treinen, and drove in two more in a three-run fifth off reliever Xavier Cedeno.

The Nationals responded for three runs in the bottom of the inning. But then, the Mets got to the usually reliable Clippard.

Ruben Tejada was hit by a pitch to lead off. Juan Centeno reached on a fielder's choice that retired Tejada, stole second, and scored on den Dekker's single.

Den Dekker reached second on the throw and scored from there on Flores' infield single.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

With his double in the ninth inning, Kirk Nieuwenhuis has four two-baggers in his last three games.

FLORES BLOSSOMING?

The 23-year-old Flores has scored 14 runs and driven in 13 this month after scoring twice and driving in one Thursday. In 74 games, Flores has 29 RBIs and 27 runs scored.

TRAINER'S ROOM

After 3B David Wright (inflamed left shoulder) said Wednesday he's in the beginning stages of a six-week rehab program in hopes of avoiding surgery, manager Terry Collins said Thursday he may be more aggressive in resting Wright next season. "What I've got to do is forget about the asking and just give him some time off," Collins said. ... C Travis d"Arnaud (unspecified ailment) will not play, at least until he sees Mets team doctors Friday, Collins said.

UP NEXT:

LHP Jonathan Niese (9-11, 3.50) will attempt to reach the 10-win plateau for the third time in his career in a series opener against Houston RHP Brad Peacock (4-9, 4.82).

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