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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Nats 8, Mets 2

By Adam Rubin

NEW YORK -- Ninety wins? How about one?

Daniel Murphy committed two errors in his return from paternity leave and the bullpen torched any chance of a late comeback as the Washington Nationals completed a sweep of the Mets with an 8-2 victory Thursday afternoon at Citi Field.

The Mets are 0-3 for the first time since 2005, when the “New Mets” were winless in their first five games, until Carlos Beltran had a late homer against John Smoltz that lifted Pedro Martinez to a victory in Atlanta.

The latest starting pitcher to deserve better: Zack Wheeler, who departed trailing 3-2 after six innings. Wheeler threw 114 pitches, one shy of matching his career high.

The Nats, who started Tanner Roark on short notice after co-ace Jordan Zimmermann was scratched with the flu, scored four seventh-inning runs as soon as Terry Collins went to the bullpen.

Scott Rice allowed two hits -- one a shot off his right shin -- with the only out coming on a sac bunt.

Jeurys Familia then entered and immediately walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Familia became the third Mets reliever in the series to issue a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced, joining Carlos Torres and Rice on Opening Day.

From there, Adam LaRoche had a two-run single and Ryan Zimmerman had a run-scoring single against Familia. The Nats’ final tally in the four-run frame came home when Murphy errantly threw away a would-be double-play toss to first base. Papa Murph also committed an error on Denard Span’s routine grounder to open the third inning.

Torres loaded the bases and then walked in a run in the eighth.

In the series, the Mets bullpen allowed 12 runs (11 earned) on 15 hits and seven walks in 9 1/3 innings.

There was no shortage of blame to go around. Mets hitters struck out eight times Thursday, upping their total to 39 through three games, on an early pace for the MLB single-season record. They scored a combined four runs after the first inning in the series.

Meanwhile, the first base triumvirate of Ike Davis, Josh Satin and Lucas Duda are now a combined 1-for-12 with three walks, thanks to Davis' two-out single in the ninth. Eric Young Jr. (0-for-9) and Travis d'Arnaud (0-for-9, two walks) remain hitless this season.

As for Wheeler, he allowed a second-inning solo homer to Zimmerman. Then, with the Mets leading 2-1 in the fifth, Wheeler walked leadoff batter Sandy Leon, the No. 8 hitter. Roark bunted Leon to second and Span followed with a game-tying single.

Span took second on the throw to the plate, which ought to have been cut off. He scored the go-ahead run from there on Werth’s two-out single to right-center.

Wheeler’s final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.

Grandy man: Curtis Granderson snapped an 0-for-9 drought to begin his Mets career with a first-inning RBI double down the right-field line. That plated Murphy, who had advanced into scoring position when Span lost David Wright’s fly ball and had it drop in front of him in center for a single.

Juan Lagares ultimately plated Wright with a sacrifice fly as the Mets took a 2-0 first-inning lead against Roark. Roark followed with five scoreless innings.

What’s next: The Mets welcome the Cincinnati Reds to Citi Field for the weekend. Jenrry Mejia, selected over Daisuke Matsuzaka for an Opening Day rotation spot, starts opposite right-hander Mike Leake at 7:10 p.m. Friday.