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Mets drop fourth straight with 2-1 loss to Nationals

Although the Mets won only twice during their most brutal stretch of season, a 13-game run against the Dodgers and Giants that expired on Thursday night, they could at least take solace in the fact that an equal and opposite stretch of schedule was coming: 15 in a row against the fourth-place Nationals and last-place Marlins, beginning Friday.

But the caveat is this: To climb their way back into contention in the NL East, the Mets will need to win far more of those 15 than they lose.

That is what made Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Nationals so dispiriting for the home team. Despite understanding how firmly their backs are pressed against the proverbial wall — “It’s time to go … it’s been time to go,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said earlier this week — the Mets were unable to take their first game of this easier stretch at Citi Field, dropping their fourth straight overall.

Starting pitcher Rich Hill did his part, holding the Nats to two runs in five innings. But outside of a fourth-inning Javier Báez homer, the Mets had no answers against Paolo Espino and four Nationals relievers.