WASHINGTON — If the Washington Nationals want September to be meaningful, they can't afford many more games like the one that ended August.
Dan Haren was chased in the third inning and the Nationals lost their second straight to the New York Mets, 11-3 on Saturday night.
Washington fell 7 1/2 games behind Cincinnati for the second NL wild card when the Reds defeated Colorado.
"Everything that could go wrong in the second and third inning did," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "We tried (to) change the momentum and pitched well after that, but the cat was out of the bag."
Haren (8-12) had been pitching well since his return from the disabled list, but Saturday night he allowed seven runs and nine hits in 2 2-3 innings, his shortest start of the season.
The Mets got two in the second on a double by Omar Quintanilla that was just beyond the reach of diving center fielder Denard Span.
In the third, the Mets sent 11 batters to the plate. Eric Young Jr. led off with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Daniel Murphy. With Murphy running, Josh Satin singled to left, putting runners on first and third.
Ike Davis drove in Murphy with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0. After Travis d'Arnaud singled, Juan Lagares singled to right, and Jayson Werth's throw to the plate cut down Satin. But Matt den Dekker followed with his first major league hit, a single that scored d'Arnaud and ended Haren's outing.
"It just wasn't my night, the way it ended especially, with the two singles to finish it," Haren said. "I tried to battle, but it seemed like everything they put in play was a hit. Literally, almost everything they put in play was a hit."
Consecutive walks, the second one to Wheeler, forced in a run, and Young capped the inning with a two-run single.
Washington got two back in the sixth on Werth's sacrifice fly and Ian Desmond's RBI single.
Span had three hits for Washington, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.
"Obviously, everyone knows that we're running out of time," he said.
Mets starter Zack Wheeler (7-3) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out three and walking one.
"You have a young guy who in a tight game might have to deal with some nerves. You give him an eight-run lead, and that kind of goes out the window," Desmond said. "He's a 95 mph fastball, and with an eight-run lead, he may or may not just decide to pump heaters. And that kind of messes with your mind a little bit."
Since the start of July, the touted rookie is 6-2 with a 2.96 ERA.
"Because he's throwing strikes," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's not trying to strike people out. With the great arm that he had, people were looking for that and I think when he got up here he thought he had to do that."
Young, Murphy, Satin and Lagares had three hits apiece for New York, which scored 11 runs for the second time in three days and won its third straight.
"I didn't think they hit the ball that hard, but they had a lot of hits," Johnson said.
The news wasn't all good for the injury-riddled Mets, though. Davis left with a strained muscle on his right side after his sacrifice fly and Collins said the first baseman is probably done for the season.
NOTES: Lucas Duda replaced Davis at first base. New York already is missing All-Star third baseman David Wright, closer Bobby Parnell and several starting pitchers due to injuries – including young ace Matt Harvey. ... Desmond added his 34th double of the season, a career high. ... Johnson was back in the dugout one night after leaving in the fourth inning due to dehydration. ... Johnson said he would speak to Bryce Harper regarding Harper not hustling after hitting a grounder to second in the eighth inning of Friday night's 3-2 loss. Johnson added that Harper might be favoring his left knee, which he injured earlier this year. Harper missed 31 games due to bursitis in the knee and Johnson said minor offseason surgery to remove a bursa sac is an option. ... LHP Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.69 ERA) opposes Washington RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.58) in the series finale Sunday night.