WASHINGTON -- Who saw that coming?
Pinch hitter Eric Campbell delivered a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning against reliever Aaron Barrett and the New York Mets rallied for a desperately needed 7-2 win against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.
The Mets (49-45) moved back within two games of the first-place Nats in the National League East.
Halfway through a stretch of 10 games against first-place clubs, the Mets are 2-3. After Wednesday's finale in Washington, they have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke awaiting for the opening two games of a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field.
In the seventh, the Mets got deGrom off the hook, though. Wilmer Flores singled and first baseman Clint Robinson committed an error on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' ensuing grounder to put two in scoring position with none out. Kevin Plawecki then popped out to second base, prompting manager Terry Collins to insert the .174-hitting Campbell for the .195-hitting deGrom, despite the ace's pitch count at a modest 82.
Nats manager Matt Williams countered by inserting Barrett for rookie starter Joe Ross. Campbell came through with a two-run single for a 3-2 lead.
Unable to start because of a bone bruise below his left kneecap, Michael Cuddyer made his first appearance since being pulled from Sunday's game. Pinch hitting in the ninth inning with Plawecki on third base, Cuddyer walked. Curtis Granderson, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy then staked the Mets to a 6-2 lead in the frame with RBI singles against Tanner Roark. Flores then added a run-scoring groundout against Abel de Los Santos in the right-hander's major league debut to cap the scoring in the four-run frame.
DeGrom ultimately allowed two runs on three hits in six innings. He struck out eight.
Campbell had endured a rough series opener. While applying a tag on Yunel Escobar on Monday after a rundown between first and second, Campbell lost track of Bryce Harper, who scored on the first-inning play.