The message proudly displayed on the giant scoreboard in centerfield after Tuesday night’s victory over the Nationals said it all: “We believe in comebacks.”

The come-from-behind win could rank right up there as one of the more important games of the season when things start to shake out in the standings later this year, especially considering it was a game they had no right winning for at least seven-and-a-half innings.

New York’s 8-6 victory marked the first time they had overcome a five-run deficit since last summer, and the first time this season they rallied from behind to win after trailing at the start of the eighth.

More importantly, a night after stranding 11 baserunners in defeat, the Mets found a way to pick up some clutch hits despite an otherwise lackluster display up until that point.

They had scored just one run on eight hits through the first five innings, stranding six runners. Ike Davis hit into a second-inning double play with two on and nobody out, and Angel Pagan grounded into a 6-4-3 in the bottom of the third after Jon Niese had led off the inning with a single.

The Mets left two more on in the fourth inning when Davis and Jeff Francoeur both struck out with runners on first and second, and Jose Reyes and Jason bay both left the bases loaded in the fifth.

While Scott Olsen was getting into and out of trouble pretty efficiently, the wheels fell off the Niese bus early on. After entering the game as the only Mets starter to go at least five innings in each of his starts, he was pulled after 4.1 innings of work. He threw just 51 of his 91 total pitches for strikes, and he walked five batters in a below-par effort punctuated by Adam Dunn’s three-run home run at the start of the game.

After cutting the Nationals’ lead to 6-2 in the sixth, the Mets looked to rally again in the seventh, but they failed to score once more as Luis Castillo grounded into a double play after the first two batters had reached base to lead off the inning.

Fortunately for Mets fans, though, they finally managed to string enough hits together off Brian Bruney in the eighth inning to make people forget about the inadequacies that preceded it.

Wright and Bay singled and doubled to put men on the corners and Ian Desmond booted a throw that scored Bay and put Davis on base. Barajas laced a double off of the left field wall to plate a pair, Alex Cora dropped down a perfectly-executed bunt single, and Pagan tied the game on an RBI single to right-centerfield.

A lot of fans had already left at this point, but those who had stayed knew that the Mets were on the verge of an improbable comeback.

Chris Carter gave the Mets the lead with a double down the first base line in his first at-bat after getting called up yesterday, and Jason Bay drew a bases-loaded walk after Miguel Batista intentionally walked Reyes.

It could have been much worse for the Nats had Wright not struck out with the bases full, or had Davis’ shot over the foul pole in right field not been ruled a long, loud strike on review.

The Mets were on the verge of losing four out of five to the Nationals and their third straight game at home. But on this chilly night in Flushing, the Mets reminded everybody why there is always a reason to believe. It took more solid bullpen work, an inspirational debut by another rookie, and what is becoming somewhat of a trademark head-over-heels catch at the dugout railings, but the Mets are hanging in there and fighting for every victory.

If the team continues to show heart and perseverance, they will win their doubters over in time. The only thing worse than losing is losing when you appear to mail in the defeat. This was just the shot in the arm the ballclub needed and undoubtedly their most important of five comeback win so far in 2010.

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