The Nationals took the field at Citi Field for the last game of their series with the Mets with the opportunity to sweep. They did. With Stephen Strasburg on the mound and home runs by Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper, the Nationals won 4-1 and increased their division lead over the Atlanta Braves to six games.
Strasburg bounced back from his rough outing against Atlanta. He went seven innings and gave up no earned runs, striking out eight. The Mets only managed three hits and two walks against the right-hander.
LaRoche got the party started in the top of the first inning against Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee. Asdrubal Cabrera drew a walk, and with two outs LaRoche homered to make the score 2-0. Ian Desmond singled, but Harper flew out to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth inning, Gee walked Desmond to lead off the inning. Harper hit a home run to drive in two more runs and increase the Nats advantage to four runs.
The Mets scored their only run in the bottom of the fourth. Daniel Murphy hit a ball up the middle which Desmond, showing incredible range, snagged in his glove. He had to spin and throw to first to have a shot at getting Murphy, but the throw was wide of first base. Murphy reached second on the error. Murphy stole third during the at bat to next hitter Wright. Jose Lobaton made a throw to third which would have gotten Murphy, but Anthony Rendon dropped the ball and Murphy was safe.
Duda hit a ball to deep center on which Denard Span made a good catch. Murphy scored on the sacrifice fly. Strasburg retired Travis d’Arnaud to end the inning.
The Nationals had several more chances to add to their lead, but could not plate any more runs. Desmond led off the top of the sixth with a single, then stole second during Harper’s at bat. After Harper struck out, he went to third on a ground out by Lobaton. Michael Taylor struck out to end the inning, stranding Desmond.
The Nats loaded the bases in the seventh against Mets reliever Josh Edgin, who walked Cabrera, gave up a single to Rendon and then walked LaRoche, all with two outs. Desmond, who usually comes through in bases loaded situations, struck out.
Taylor made a bid for another home run in the eighth, driving a ball to deep center field that Juan Lagares caught up against the wall. That would have been a home run in most parks, but in Citi Field it was another loud out.
The Mets had their chances too. The Mets pinch hit for Gee in the bottom of the sixth, who was scheduled to lead off the inning. Eric Young doubled to start the inning. Strasburg then walked Curtis Granderson. With two on and nobody out, Murphy came to the plate. Strasburg got Murphy to hit into a double play, then struck out Wright to end the inning.
Tyler Clippard worked a one-two-three eighth inning, and Rafael Soriano came on in the ninth. Soriano had better command of his pitches than he did the night before. Although he got behind hitters and got into long counts, he found a way to get through the heart of the Mets lineup. It took twenty-two pitches to get Murphy to ground out, Wright to flyout and Duda to ground out. Soriano got the job done for his twenty-eighth save of the year.
Next Game: The Nationals start a home stand Friday, August 15th. They start the first of a three game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tanner Roark (11-7, 2.86 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Nats. Charlie Morton (5-11, 3.62 ERA) is pitching for the Pirates.