|Nationals, fresh off elimination, host Mets|
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals will try to earn a split of their four-game series with the New York Mets on Sunday, one day after they were officially eliminated from postseason contention.
Shortly after Saturday's game got underway, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants to dash the Nationals' wild-card hopes. Their bid for a third straight National League East crown ended Friday night when the Atlanta Braves won and they lost.
"It stings," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of being eliminated. "But we've still got seven more games ... these guys don't quit."
The Nationals in fact turned in a stellar effort Saturday. Rookie Austin Voth and four relievers combined on a one-hitter, and Matt Wieters and Trea Turner homered in their 6-0 victory over the Mets.
Voth allowed one infield hit in five innings while striking out five and walking two in his second major league start.
"He kept us off balance," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "He had a good curveball, I thought. He was able to throw it for strikes ... and then he got it down when he needed to, and his fastball command was pretty good."
The Mets lead the season series 10-8 with one game remaining.
Washington, favored to win a third straight division title, slid into third place on June 22 and remained there.
"You want to come out and win every year and have a chance to go into the playoffs, but it happens," Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said of falling short. "That's why it's sports and that's why sports are one of the greatest things in the world, because you never know what's going to happen."
Mets left-hander Steven Matz (5-11, 4.03 ERA) opposes right-hander Erick Fedde (2-3, 5.02) on Sunday.
Matz took his fourth straight no-decision Sept. 18 at Philadelphia. He pitched five shutout innings, giving up two hits and five walks. In his last six starts, he has a 2.29 ERA.
"He weathered the storm a bit and came back and started getting in a groove again, and hopefully he can continue to finish strong," Callaway said. "I think it's important to finish on a good note and come into next year ready to go."
He also homered for the second consecutive start, becoming the third Mets pitcher (Tom Seaver, 1972; Ron Darling, 1989) to do so. The solo shot came off Cy Young contender Aaron Nola, thereby helping teammate Jacob deGrom.
"I told (deGrom), 'That was for my friend there,'" Matz told the New York Post after raising Nola's ERA.
The left-hander is making his sixth start against the Nationals this season after going 0-3 with a 5.48 in the first five outings. He took the loss the last time he faced them, Aug. 26 at Citi Field, despite pitching seven innings of one-run ball.
Matz is 1-5 with a 3.63 ERA versus Washington in his career, including 1-1 with a 3.05 ERA at Nationals Park.
Fedde, 25, will be making his 10th start of the season. Last time out he allowed two runs, two hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision versus the Marlins. He left after throwing 93 pitches and was unable to fix what was causing the walks.
"That's something I need to be better at," Fedde told the Washington Post. "Whether you say it's tough or not, it needs to be done."
He has yet to face the Mets this season and is 0-0 with a 7.50 ERA in one career start against them.