WASHINGTON (AP) -- A series that began with contract extensions for New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins ended with another frustrating losing season confirmed.
Gio Gonzalez struck out a career-high 12 and allowed just one hit through seven innings as the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals 3-0 for a split of their day-night doubleheader Thursday.
"I've seen a lot of him," Collins said of Gonzalez. "That's as good as I've seen him."
In the first game, Matt den Dekker singled home the go-ahead run off Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning to help the Mets to a 7-4 victory.
Curtis Granderson singled three times and drove in three runs, and Wilmer Flores also singled three times and drove in an insurance run as New York got 15 hits.
Those hits disappeared in the nightcap as Gonzalez (10-10) did more than enough against Zack Wheeler (11-11), who allowed three runs over five innings.
Drew Storen pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save. That sealed a loss that is New York's 82nd, guaranteeing a sixth straight losing season. And Collins, who the Mets announced Tuesday would be returning in 2015, admitted snapping that streak was a definite goal this season.
"It was one of the things we were looking forward to, especially the way we've played last month," said Collins, whose club is 40-34 since July 4. "We were making a comeback, but now we are just worried about finishing strong."
The NL East champion Nationals did their damage off Wheeler in the fourth on a fielder's choice, a passed ball, and one of three singles by Anthony Rendon.
"They hit one ball hard the whole night," said Wheeler, who allowed four hits and three walks. "It was just one of those games where they were finding holes and they were dropping in. It's not the way I wanted to go out this year."
Alderson received a contract extension Tuesday through 2017 as an endorsement of the Mets' rebuilding project. That they can still finish in second place in the NL East is some testament to their progress.
The Mets have twice assembled streaks of seven straight losing years since their inception in 1962.
Granderson had one of only three Mets hits in the nightcap as he continues a hot September after struggling for much of his first season in Queens. He's now 10 for his last 24, and has eight multihit games this month.
"I'm just getting hits," said Granderson. "I really wish it was more complicated than that, but sometimes you find a little bit of grass or a couple of holes here or there. That's really it."
In the opener, Carlos Torres (8-5) pitched the seventh and Jenrry Mejia worked the ninth for his 28th save.
Washington's Blake Treinen allowed four runs on eight hits in 4 1-3 innings, the shortest of his seven spot starts this season, while New York's Dillon Gee gave up four runs on nine hits over five in his shortest outing since July 24.
Clippard (7-4) allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning.
Granderson opened New York's scoring in the first with a single off Treinen, and drove in two more in a three-run fifth off reliever Xavier Cedeno.
The Nationals responded for three runs in the bottom of the inning. But then, the Mets got to the usually reliable Clippard.
Ruben Tejada was hit by a pitch to lead off. Juan Centeno reached on a fielder's choice that retired Tejada, stole second, and scored on den Dekker's single.
Den Dekker reached second on the throw and scored from there on Flores' infield single.
GRANDY WORDS FOR JETER
Granderson briefly weighed in on Derek Jeter's walk-off single in his final home game with the New York Yankees, and said he can relate to the vibe Thursday in Yankee Stadium.
"I was on deck when he got his 3,000th hit," Granderson said. "I got a chance to see it close and personal. That was probably the biggest one that I got a chance to be a part of."
The 23-year-old Flores has scored 14 runs and driven in 13 this month after scoring twice and driving in one Thursday. In 74 games, Flores has 29 RBIs and 27 runs scored.
After 3B David Wright (inflamed left shoulder) said Wednesday he's in the beginning stages of a six-week rehab program in hopes of avoiding surgery, manager Terry Collins said Thursday he may be more aggressive in resting Wright next season. "What I've got to do is forget about the asking and just give him some time off," Collins said. ... C Travis d"Arnaud (unspecified ailment) will not play, at least until he sees Mets team doctors Friday, Collins said.
LHP Jonathan Niese (9-11, 3.50) will attempt to reach the 10-win plateau for the third time in his career Friday in a series opener against Houston RHP Brad Peacock (4-9, 4.82).