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Mets rally for 9 runs in 8th inning to stun Nationals, 11-5

New York Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a grand slam in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Six outs from getting swept at home by Washington, the New York Mets stunned their NL East rivals with a nine-run rally instead.

Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam for his second key hit of the eighth inning, capping a colossal outburst that propelled the Mets past the Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night and prevented a three-game sweep.

“We just went out and took it,” manager Mickey Callaway said.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2), who was pitching for the third night in a row and fourth time in five games.

“I think I had about five or 10 good bullets in there. The ball started getting away from me after that. I kind of emptied the tank the night before,” Madson said. “But I signed up for it.”

The right-hander has made 11 relief appearances already this season.

“Madson’s our guy,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “I’m going to put him out there. It just didn’t work out today.”

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory.

“It’s important to not let them sweep us,” Cespedes said through a translator.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals (9-10), who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

“That was really big,” Callaway said . “That inning was unbelievable.”

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2, but Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle.

“You can kind of feel the energy building,” Conforto said. “Just with the guys saying, ‘Hey, it’s time to go.’”

One out later, Lagares lined a bases-loaded double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

“He made a good pitch, but I was ready,” Lagares said.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto, forcing in another run.

Cespedes connected off A.J. Cole for his sixth career slam — third by the Mets this season — to send fans into a frenzy at Citi Field.

“The exclamation point,” Frazier said. “That’s the excitement we bring.”

Both of Cespedes’ hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

“Just everybody coming up clutch, especially with two strikes,” Frazier said.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets.

Zimmerman, who began the night batting .121, hit a three-run homer off Steven Matz in the first.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Adrian Gonzalez’s single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton’s RBI grounder.

After Matz and Paul Sewald combined to retire 16 batters in a row, Zimmerman’s leadoff triple in the seventh dropped in front of a diving Bruce in right field and rolled past him. Moises Sierra’s sacrifice fly made it 4-2.

Zimmerman also went deep in the ninth for his 24th career multihomer game.

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