MLB

Jose Quintana twirls another gem as Mets outlast Nationals

Jose Quintana was the weak link a month ago, but since then has ascended into the Mets’ most effective starting pitcher.

It’s a metamorphosis that if it continues will either help the team’s playoff aspirations or possibly allow the Mets to receive something in return at the trade deadline for the veteran left-hander if they drop from wild-card contention.

For now the focus is on the playoff race scenario, with Quintana as a valuable component.

Jose Quintana allowed just one hit and one walk in seven innings during the Mets’ 7-5 win over the Nationals on Tuesday. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Tuesday night he gave the Mets a second straight seven-inning scoreless performance, in a 7-5 victory over the Nationals at Citi Field to begin the team’s final homestand before the All-Star break.

Along the way Quintana became the first Mets pitcher since Jacob deGrom in 2019 with consecutive appearances of at least seven innings without allowing an earned run.

“Overall the way Q is attacking, putting hitters away, mixing his pitches, another good outing from him,” manager Carlos Mendoza said.

Quintana retired 21 of the 24 batters he faced as his ERA since June 9 fell to 0.89. Quintana’s ERA overall in those five starts has dropped from 5.29 to 3.91.

All of those starts have occurred since Francisco Alvarez returned from the injured list as the Mets’ starting catcher.

“He’s amazing,” Quintana said. “I love this kid.”

Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor each homered to lead the Mets’ 11-hit attack.

The Mets moved back to .500 and will have a chance to vault into the black over the next five games, three of which are this weekend against the barely competitive Rockies.

Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (r.) celebrates his two-run home run with Harrison Bader (l.) holding the team’s “OMG” sign in the dugout. Robert Sabo for NY Post

Quintana had a fourth start in his last five in which he lasted at least six innings and allowed one earned run or less.

In Washington last Thursday he pitched seven shutout innings, but the Mets lost 1-0 on Jesse Winker’s home run against Adrian Houser.

“We designed the same plan as last time to see how they would respond when I threw the ball in the same spot as last time,” Quintana said.

Quintana on this night allowed his lone hit in the third, when Luis Garcia Jr. delivered a leadoff single.

Brandon Nimmo rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run in the second inning. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

The Nationals loaded the bases in the inning — CJ Abrams was hit by a pitch and Lane Thomas walked — but Quintana escaped.

In his other six innings, Quintana retired the 18 batters he faced.

Nimmo’s three-run homer — his second blast in as many games — gave the Mets a 4-0 lead in the second inning.

The rally started with two outs.

Harrison Bader (right) congratulates Francisco Lindor on his two-run homer during the Mets’ win. Corey Sipkin for the New York Post

Jeff McNeil walked and Harrison Bader singled before Lindor’s RBI single brought in the game’s first run.

Nimmo followed with a fly to left that kept carrying for his 15th homer of the season.

Lindor smashed a two-run homer in the sixth that extended the Mets’ lead to 6-0.

Bader singled with two outs before Lindor cleared the fence in right-center for his 16th homer of the season.

Adam Ottavino struggled in the eighth and heard boos.

The right-hander recorded only one out and allowed two earned runs on two hits with a hit batsman.

Dedniel Nunez recorded the final two outs in the inning.

McNeil’s RBI double in the eighth gave the Mets a 7-2 lead after Tyrone Taylor tripled leading off the inning.

Reed Garrett continued the bleeding from the bullpen by allowing a two-run homer to Kelbert Ruiz in the ninth.

Edwin Diaz was eventually needed to get the last out — after he threw a wild pitch that allowed the Nationals to score their final run

Mendoza was asked if there was frustration in using four relievers after receiving seven shutout innings from his starter.

“I wouldn’t say frustrated,” Mendoza said. “At the end of the day a win is a win and we got the job done. It took us a few guys to come in and get the job done, but I will take it.”

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