NEW YORK (AP) — Mets ace Max Scherzer exited with left side fatigue after five sharp innings and 67 pitches and NL East-leading New York lost to the Washington Nationals 7-1 Saturday night.

Scherzer, who missed almost seven weeks earlier this season with a left oblique strain, had his fastball clocked as high as 96 mph. He retired his final seven batters before heading straight to the tunnel leading to the Mets’ clubhouse following the fifth.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner, making his third attempt at earning the 200th win of his career, allowed three hits — including Luis Garcia’s homer with one out in the first — and walked one with five strikeouts. Scherzer is 9-4 with a 2.26 ERA this year.

The five innings pitched tied a season low for Scherzer.

Lane Thomas hit a tiebreaking solo homer with one out in the eighth off Adam Ottavino (5-3) for the last-place Nationals.

Garcia also doubled twice, then singled in a five-run ninth.

Patrick Corbin (6-17), who leads the majors in losses and has the highest ERA (6.28) among qualified pitchers, earned his second straight win. He gave up three hits, including Eduardo Escobar’s homer in the third, and walked one with five strikeouts in seven innings.

Corbin has allowed two runs over his last two starts, a span of 13 innings, following a nine-start stretch in which he went 0-7 and posted an 8.33 ERA.

Carl Edwards Jr. allowed a hit and a walk in the eighth before getting Francisco Lindor to pop up for the final out, protecting a 2-1 lead.

Thomas and Josh Palacios each had an RBI single in the ninth and CJ Abrams hit a two-run single.

HAIL CESAR

10-year veteran Cesar Hernandez made his first career appearance in left field and went 1 for 3 while catching the only ball hit to him, Eduardo Escobar’s fly in the fifth. Nationals manager Dave Martinez said he wanted to use Hernandez — who played in just two of the previous seven games — because of his experience against Scherzer. Hernandez went 1 for 2 with Scherzer on the mound to improve his lifetime average against the right-hander to .218.

Hernandez hadn’t played anywhere in the outfield since 2013, when he made 22 starts in centerfield as a rookie for the Phillies.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: DH Nelson Cruz (right knee contusion), who fouled a ball off his knee Friday and left after two at-bats, felt better Saturday and was available off the bench.

Mets: RHP Trevor May (undisclosed) was placed on the IL. The Mets recalled RHP Bryce Montes de Oca from Triple-A Syracuse. … RHP Tylor Megill (shoulder strain) is scheduled to make his second one-inning rehab appearance for Double-A Binghamton on Sunday. … LHP Joey Lucchesi (Tommy John surgery) threw two scoreless innings Saturday in his fourth rehab appearance for Single-A St. Lucie. Like Megill, Lucchesi is rehabbing as a reliever in hopes he can contribute out of the bullpen.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (5-9, 5.29 ERA) is 0-4 with a 7.11 ERA over his last seven starts dating to June 27.

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (13-5, 3.92 ERA) is expected to be activated from the injured list. Carrasco, who suffered a left oblique strain against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 15, threw 55 pitches in a simulated game last Monday.

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