Desmond drove in three late runs from his leadoff spot and Ryan Zimmerman had two RBI for the Nationals, who won their fifth straight overall and moved into third place in the NL East. The franchise has not finished third or higher since 2002.
"We feel that we're going in the right direction," Rizzo said. "Our young players are getting opportunities and we're progressing. So I think it kind of shows not only our fan base, but the organization itself that we are improving. We've got some good young players and their talents in the minor leagues are starting to translate to the big leagues."
Making his third major league start, Milone (1-0) allowed one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. He became the second consecutive Nationals rookie starter to notch his first career victory, following Brad Peacock's 2-0 win Wednesday.
"It feels great. It feels exactly how I wanted it to when I was a little kid," said Milone, who took three souvenir balls and a shaving-cream pie in the face from teammate John Lannan. "Hopefully, there's more games like this to come."
After fighting through some critical injuries to stay competitive most of the season, the Mets are stumbling to the finish in September. It's an all-too-familiar refrain. New York has lost six straight, one shy of its longest skid this season, and finished 1-8 on the penultimate homestand of the season. The sluggish Mets (71-79) managed five runs in the four-game series and were outscored 48-26 on the homestand.
Moments after the latest loss, manager Terry Collins said he was "disgusted" with how his team has been playing.
"The perception I have right now: We folded it up. And I won't stand for that," he said. "You want to see me be intense? You guys are going to see it. I don't play that game."
In games last night: *
At Cincinnati, Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning, his 31st of the season, that lifted the Reds to an 8-6 win over the Chicago Cubs.
In Reds news, righthander Johnny Cueto will miss his next start because of a strained muscle in his back, but has not been shut down for the season.
* At Denver, Pablo Sandoval tripled in the sixth inning to complete the first cycle of his career and the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies, 8-5, to keep their slim postseason hopes alive. The Giants have won five straight and prevented Arizona from moving closer to clinching the NL West. The Diamondbacks lead the Giants by seven games with 12 to play.