New York Manager Terry Collins said the stakes were high enough Wednesday that he should've turned to closer Jeurys Familia before the ninth inning.
Instead, with Familia warming up, reliever Bobby Parnell allowed a two-out, two-run single to Michael Taylor and an RBI double to Danny Espinosa as the Mets blew a three-run lead in a 4-3 loss to the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.
"That's on me," said Collins, who thought his closer wasn't quite ready. "I could've let Jeurys get looser. I could've delayed the game a little bit."
Instead of pulling to within a game of the Nationals, the Mets fell three off the division pace after dropping two of three in the series.
"It's a huge loss — it's a big loss for us," Collins said.
After Ian Desmond walked and Matt den Dekker singled with one out, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore lined out to left.
With the tying run on first, Collins elected to have Parnell pitch to Taylor. The equation changed, though, when Parnell (1-1) buried a pitch in the dirt that allowed the runners to move up to second and third, putting the tying run in scoring position.
It was at that point, Collins said, he wished he'd done things differently.
"You can always send the catcher out and do some other things," Collins said. "That's my fault. (Parnell's) just been pitching so good, I had all the confidence in the world he'd get out of it."
Taylor then ripped a full-count fastball to left to tie it, stole second base, and came around on Espinosa's double to deep left.
Parnell had previously allowed only one earned run in 13 appearances since rejoining the Mets in June following Tommy John surgery.
"It's just poor timing for a bad day on my part," said Parnell, whose ERA jumped nearly two full points to 2.70. "These guys did everything they were supposed to. I just didn't do my part. It was totally on me."
Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a two-run double and Kevin Plawecki an RBI single in the fourth to give the Mets a 3-0 lead against Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed seven hits in seven innings.
Taylor also singled in the Nationals' first run in the fourth off rookie right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who escaped further damaged but allowed five hits and five walks in five innings.
"Five walks can't really happen in the big leagues," Syndergaard said. "I really had to battle out there, I really couldn't get comfortable."
Desmond had two hits and two walks, and den Dekker walked three times in addition to his single. Drew Storen struck out the side for his 29th save.
Matt Thornton (1-0) pitched the eighth for the win.
Collins said before the game that he may rest some regulars Thursday when the Mets face Los Angeles Dodgers LHP and three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to begin a four-game series. It's "because more they need a break," Collins said. "But he's awful hard to hit. So those are the kind of days that you give some guys a blow."
Collins also said C Anthony Recker will work with RHP Bartolo Colon Thursday, rather than Plawecki, "because for some reason it works, it clicks."
LF Michael Cuddyer (left knee soreness) began on the bench for the third straight day Wednesday, and Collins indicated he may be reduced to a pinch-hitting role for a while. "The only way it's really going to get better is with long-term rest," Collins said. "It's a bruise more than a lot of things. . But like he said last night, 'Look, I can hit.'" Cuddyer pinch hit, walked and scored in the ninth inning Tuesday night but did not play Wednesday.
Colon (9-8, 4.86 ERA) opens a four-game series Thursday against Kershaw (7-6, 2.68) and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. Colon is 0-3 with a 4.68 ERA in three starts in July.