Nats win. Mets win, but hey at least their bullpen gets stretched, and right before facing a pretty good offensive team in Boston. The Mets aren't going to win the next 30 games in a row so just keep doing what you are doing Nats.
Another game is off the schedule and no ground gained. That's not necessary a bad thing though. The whole idea that the Nats need time to catch the Mets is based on a simple, but now probably flawed, assumption. That idea is that the Nats are better than the Mets. That might have been a decent assumption to make in June, that a healthy Nats team would simply overtake the Mets like a strong runner overtaking a weak one, once everyone got back healthy. However after seeing the additional players the Mets added (and Nats didn't) at the trade deadline, and seeing how the Nats players have played post-injury, and noting that it seems likely the Nats will never actually get everyone back healthy, that assumption is much harder to justify.
If the Nats aren't better than the Mets then you might not really want a lot of games left in the season. If the Mets are better they will simply use all those games to lengthen a lead. Instead you might be better off with FEWER games left in the season. Remember when we talked about streaks before. Every team goes 3-7 at some point. Every team goes 7-3. If that lines up at the right time, that's 4 games gained by dumb luck. Sure you want to gain games in the standings, but if the Mets are actually better, not losing games is a positive. Holding ground until you get to a point where fate and timing can stake you a tiny lead and the season can run out on the Mets might actually be a more reasonable thing to pray for.
Think this is a silly idea that fewer games might be better. Perhaps* But here's something I found out yesterday when digging for comebacks. There are (at least) two big September comebacks for division titles in the past 10 years that come up when you look for such things. The Mets in 2007, as I'm sure you all know, lost a 7 game lead they held on Sept 12th. The Tigers, in 2009, also lost a 7 game lead that they had as late a Sept 6th.
Got that? Ok. Now guess how many division comebacks of 5-10 games starting on Sept 1st have there been in the same time frame? You'd kind of assume given that definition maybe a couple more. There's more time involved than either of those two comebacks and the team trying to catch up only has to make up 5 games. So four or five maybe? Nope. One.
Minnesota in 2006 was down by 6 games on September first and made up the ground on the Tigers to take the division. Note that by one I mean one. Neither the '07 Mets blown lead or the '09 Tigers blown lead qualify here. The Mets were only up by 3 on the Phillies on Sept 1st, the Tigers by 3.5 on the Twins in 2009. The fact they were closer on Sept 1st allowed the Phillies and Twins the ability to lose a little, but not too much, ground, and then let said dumb luck in the timing of streaks carry them to a division title.
You might try to bring up the WC collapses of the Red Sox and Braves here but I'll caution you. These needed the "plays like the best, plays like the worst" scenario we've talked about before. That is far more likely to be seen in a WC race where the "plays like the best" can be any of a handful of trailing teams, than in a divisional race where you are generally talking about two specific teams**. In 2011 if either the Angels or Giants played like the best team in baseball down the stretch perhaps they could have taken the WC. Essentially that's doubling the chances of seeing it. It's doubling very bad odds, but it's still doubling it.
To put the divisional thing in another perspective at least 59 teams (probably one or two more) were 5-10 games out of the division lead on September 1st in the past 10 years and only one took the division. This is for the reasons I was talking about above. You've played 5/6ths of the season. If you are 5-10 games in front of a team at that point, well you are very likely not lucky, but better than that other team. If you are better than that other team you'd expect that in 30 games to expand your lead, not to see it shrink.
What does this mean for the Nats? Basically at some point down the line, probably after Labor Day you switch the miracle you are hoping for. Right now you are hoping that the Nats are better than or at least equal to the Mets and that in the games left things will break in a way that the Nats can overtake them. Win series, gain games, sweep H2H. If after Labor Day the Nats still find themselves 5+ games out we can probably put that miracle to bed and start hoping for the other one, that dumb luck takes the Nats to a title. Stay close enough, within 7 games, and pray.
*I'll try to work out the actual math on this. As much as it can be done.
** Not that it hasn't happened. The Twins (19-11) / Tigers (12-16) in 2006 is close, if not that. The 1995 Mariners (20-9) / Angels (11-17) was like that. In 1978 the Red Sox didn't even have to play that poorly (14-15). The Yankees just caught them (22-8). But I hope you notice we're zooming past dozens of divisional races that didn't end up how we want them to just to find an example here and there.