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Morning Briefing: Mets get reprieve as Nationals flounder

NEW YORK -- FIRST PITCH: Even when the New York Mets lose, they do not lose ground.

Despite getting swept in a weekend series by the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Mets maintained a 4½-game lead over the Washington Nationals atop the National League East.

The Nats have lost six straight games and now have dropped under .500, at 58-59.

The Mets (63-55) do not have any remaining NL teams on their schedule with winning records, at least at the moment.

The lone teams they face above .500? The Baltimore Orioles during the upcoming two-game series at Camden Yards, plus the American League East-leading Yankees during a Sept. 18-20 series at Citi Field.

The Mets flew to Baltimore late Sunday afternoon, but are off on Monday. When they resume play Tuesday, Jacob deGrom (11-6, 2.03 ERA) will oppose Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-4, 4.48) at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Lucas Duda (back) expects to play first base in Baltimore. He has been out of the starting lineup for six straight games.

MONDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • After play resumed following a rain delay, Bobby Parnell threw a ball into center field trying to initiate a double play in what became a four-run seventh inning. The Pirates ultimately completed a season sweep of the Mets with an 8-1 victory on Sunday. Ruben Tejada took responsibility for not covering second base in a timely fashion on the would-be double play. Matt Harvey limited the Pirates to one run in six innings despite not feeling sharp. Travis d'Arnaud accounted for the Mets’ lone run with a homer. He also doubled. D’Arnaud was charged with a run-scoring passed ball in the seventh. The Mets went 0-6 against the Pirates in 2015 and never led in any of the games. Throw in the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals and the Mets went a combined 3-17 against the NL Central’s elite. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post asserts that general manager Sandy Alderson has to find another bullpen arm, although that might not be easy. Sherman lists five potential considerations who already have cleared waivers and are eligible to be traded: Addison Reed (Diamondbacks), Fernando Rodney (Mariners), John Axford (Rockies), Edward Mujica (Athletics) and David Aardsma (Braves). Also available: Dale Thayer, who was just designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres.

  • Regarding manager Matt Williams’ job security with the Nationals, the team’s general manager, Mike Rizzo, told MLB.com: "I have nothing but complimentary things to say about our manager since we hired him."

  • Read more on Harvey’s performance in the Post and on d’Arnaud’s performance in Newsday.

  • Rafael Montero allowed one run in three innings in a rehab start with Class A St. Lucie. Meanwhile, Erik Goeddel tossed a scoreless inning as his rehab assignment moved to Double-A Binghamton.

  • David Wright had Sunday off after playing rehab games on three straight days with Class A St. Lucie. So far, Wright is 4-for-14 with two walks. He has two errors in three games at third base. "I feel like my reactions are still off," Wright told MLB.com. "I need to get that up to speed. That's something I'm going to work on, just seeing the ball off the bat." As for diving for a ball on Saturday, Wright added: “I was thinking about it. I want to get to where it's just a reaction. I want to think about baseball instead of thinking, 'Is this going to hurt or not hurt?’”

  • Tyler Pill tossed six scoreless innings and also had three hits and an RBI as Binghamton beat New Britain, 3-0. Savannah extended its winning streak to 13 games with a 4-0 win against Greensboro. Dash Winningham, Patrick Mazeika and Milton Ramos drove in two runs apiece as Kingsport beat Princeton, 8-5. Alex Palsha surrendered his first run of the season and suffered his first blown save and Hudson Valley beat Brooklyn, 3-2, in 11 innings. Read the full minor league recap here.

  • From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear measures how quickly a season seems to go versus how long it really is. ... Mets Report suggests Terry Collins merits a multi-year extension barring a collapse. ... Kings of Queens discusses the continued buzz at Citi Field.

BIRTHDAYS: Mike O'Connor turns 35. ... Julian Hilario is 25. ... Blake Taylor, who recently underwent Tommy John surgery, is 20.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Which reliever should the Mets acquire?