After sitting for nearly seven innings, Michael Conforto wasn’t in the waiting mood when he went to the plate in the seventh inning Saturday night.
Mason Thompson, who had just been summoned to pitch for the Nationals, elevated a sinker that Conforto crushed over the fence in left-center, bringing a rare jolt of energy to Citi Field during these numb days.
Conforto’s pinch-hit three-run blast let the Mets snap a four-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Nationals. The homer was only Conforto’s second at home since the All-Star break.
The Mets (62-67) had scored five runs in their previous four games combined, so this display might as well have been a 10-run outburst. It came hours after the franchise honored former pitcher Jerry Koosman by retiring his No. 36 during a pregame ceremony.
With the Mets behind 3-2, Jeff McNeil led off the seventh with a single off Ryne Harper and Kevin Pillar (who had already homered twice) was drilled by a pitch. After Patrick Mazeika popped out on a bunt attempt, the right-hander Thompson entered to face Conforto, who was absent from the starting lineup against lefty Sean Nolin. And Conforto blasted the first pinch-hit homer of his career.
Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz protected the lead with a scoreless inning apiece. Diaz earned his 26th save in 30 chances.
The victory allowed the Mets to regain the game in the standings they had lost to the Braves the previous night. Even so, the Mets’ deficit is 7 ½ games in the NL East, the product of a 7-19 August in which their lineup has sputtered.
The Nationals took a 3-2 lead on Trevor May in the seventh, with Riley Adams scoring on a wild pitch after leading off the inning with a single. May hadn’t allowed a run in his previous five appearances.
Pillar’s second homer of the night tied it 2-2 in the fifth against Nolin. It was the second multi-homer game of the season for Pillar, who started in right field to get an extra right-handed bat in the lineup against the Washington lefty. Pillar also homered leading off the third.
The Mets were active on the bases in their attempt to create runs. Jonathan Villar was nailed trying to steal second to end the third inning and Francisco Lindor successfully swiped second in the next frame, but was left stranded by Pete Alonso and Javier Baez. Lindor also stole second in the sixth and was left stranded.
Marcus Stroman provided the Mets with a second straight six-inning performance in which he surrendered two runs. The right-hander was removed at 91 pitches, after allowing seven hits and one walk. Stroman has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his last five starts, a stretch in which has increased barely, from 2.80 to 2.85.
Stroman allowed two runs in the second after walking Luis Garcia to begin the inning. Lane Thomas’ RBI double gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead before Alcides Escobar’s single — following Mazeika’s passed ball — added another run.
Stroman loaded the bases in the first following Thomas’ leadoff double, but escaped by striking out Yadiel Hernandez and retiring Carter Kieboom.