New York Mets: Drew Storen

Rapid Reaction: Nats 5, Mets 3 (13)

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
WASHINGTON -- At least Jacob deGrom wasn’t tagged with the loss.

Carlos Torres, the last remaining reliever, surrendered a two-run homer to Bryce Harper in bottom of the 13th as the Mets suffered a 5-3 walk-off defeat against the Nationals in the rubber game on Thursday afternoon. Torres has surrendered at least one run in four of his past five appearances. He did not record an out.

The Mets (54-61) dropped nine games behind first-place Washington.

Off the hook: A quality start was not enough to prolong deGrom’s winning streak, but a seventh-inning rally saved the rookie right-hander from getting tagged with a loss.

With the Mets trailing 3-1, deGrom departed for pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the seventh. The Mets evened the score that inning against Jordan Zimmermann and Drew Storen.

DeGrom’s winning streak nonetheless was snapped at five straight starts, two shy of matching the franchise rookie record shared by Jason Isringhausen (1995), Ron Darling (1984) and Dwight Gooden (1984).

DeGrom’s franchise rookie record streak of 67 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing a homer also ended. Ian Desmond produced a two-run shot in the second inning to open the game’s scoring. DeGrom had not surrendered a homer since June 5, to Travis Wood at Wrigley Field.

Desmond plated Adam LaRoche for the second time in the game on an RBI single in the fourth to stake Washington to a 3-1 lead.

DeGrom’s final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR. He now is 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA for the season.

Rally time: Nieuwenhuis improved to 7-for-17 as a pinch hitter this season when he delivered a one-out single in the seventh that advanced Wilmer Flores to second and chased Zimmermann. Storen entered and uncorked a wild pitch with Eric Young Jr. batting that advanced both runners.

E.Y. Jr. then smoked a liner to right-center. Jayson Werth ran it down in the gap, but Flores tagged up and scored to move the Mets within 3-2. Curtis Granderson, in the midst of a 1-for-23 rut, then singled past Desmond at shortstop and into center field to plate Nieuwenhuis and even the score at 3.

Hit man: Daniel Murphy continued to torment Zimmermann. Murphy went 3-for-3 against the ace, including an RBI double in the third that pulled the Mets within 2-1. Murphy has 16 hits against Zimmermann, the most of any major leaguer.

Get out of the way: In only his second start since July 26, E.Y. Jr. arguably cost the Mets a run. Young stepped in front of Juan Lagares in left-center and fielded Desmond’s fourth-inning single. E.Y. Jr. casually returned the ball to the infield, allowing LaRoche to score from second base.

All aboard! The Mets take Amtrak to Philly for a four-game wraparound series. Bartolo Colon (10-9, 4.12 ERA) opposes Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett (6-11, 4.16) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. opener at Citizens Bank Park.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 6, Nats 1

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
WASHINGTON -- To say Zack Wheeler walked a tightrope would be an understatement. Regardless, he ended up barely scathed on the scoreboard … and a winner.

Wheeler faced a pair of baserunners aboard and none out in four of the seven innings he worked and had high early pitch counts (46 through two innings, 65 through three innings). Yet he somehow managed to limit Washington to one run in 6 2/3 innings as the Mets produced a 6-1 win against the first-place Nationals on Tuesday night.

The Amazin's won for only the second time in their last dozen games against the Nats. With 49 games remaining, the Mets (54-59) now trail Washington by seven games.

Wheeler issued three walks and a wild pitch in a rocky second inning, but limited the damage to one run in that frame.

Joy R. Absalon/USA TODAY SportsZack Wheeler allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings Tuesday against Washington.

He has now made seven straight starts in which he has limited his opponent to two runs or fewer while logging at least six innings in each appearance. That’s the longest single-season streak by a Mets pitcher since Masato Yoshii went eight straight outings in 1999 allowing two or fewer runs while completing at least six innings in each.

Wheeler's final line in a 109-pitch outing: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K.

Thanks! A pair of Nats plays on the bases helped Wheeler improve to 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his past seven starts.

A half-inning after the Mets took a 2-0 lead on Wheeler’s two-out bloop single in front of sliding right fielder Jayson Werth, Wheeler loaded the bases with three walks in the second. With No. 8 hitter Jose Lobaton batting, Wheeler then uncorked a wild pitch that got the Nats on the scoreboard and advanced Ian Desmond to third base and Asdrubal Cabrera to second base.

Lobaton then hit what should have been a run-scoring groundout to shortstop. However, the grounder struck Cabrera as he was running to third base. He was ruled out. And Desmond, who was racing home, was forced to return to third base on the dead ball. Wheeler ultimately stranded Desmond there. He ended the 33-pitch inning by coaxing a flyout from opposing pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

Still clinging to that 2-1 lead in the sixth, Wheeler surrendered a leadoff double to Werth. Adam LaRoche then singled to left field, and Nats third-base coach Bob Henley waved home Werth. Making only his second major league start in left field, natural infielder Eric Campbell threw out Werth for his second career outfield assist. A replay review initiated by the crew confirmed Travis d'Arnaud had not improperly blocked the plate.

Campbell also had an outfield assist May 22 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That happened to be Campbell’s only other major league start in left field. That time, Yasiel Puig was doubled off second base on Hanley Ramirez's lineout.

Adding on: The Mets finally got some breathing room in the seventh.

After Gonzalez departed with a pair of Mets on base and none out, Wheeler laid down a sacrifice bunt against Drew Storen. Juan Lagares was drilled with a pitch in the left arm to load the bases. And Daniel Murphy followed with a two-run single passed Cabrera’s backhand at second base as the Mets took a 4-1 lead. Lucas Duda added an RBI single later in the frame.

Had the recently acquired Cabrera been able to field Murphy’s grounder on the arguably makeable play, the Nats may have escaped with an inning-ending double play, still only trailing by a run.

Ouch: Lagares received an escort off the field from trainer Ray Ramirez and Terry Collins after appearing to twist his left ankle -- and possibly landing on an arm -- on an inning-ending catch in the seventh that stranded a runner at third base. Lagares remained in the game.

Audition flop: Getting a rare start against a left-hander, Duda went 0-for-3 against Gonzalez with two groundouts.

Welcome back: In his return to the majors, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth against Blake Treinen that staked the Mets to a 6-1 lead.

What’s next: Jonathon Niese (5-7, 3.24 ERA) opposes right-hander Doug Fister (10-3, 2.68) at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday.

Rapid Reaction: Nats 6, Mets 3

May, 18, 2014
May 18
WASHINGTON -- Zack Wheeler surrendered five runs for a second straight game and the Mets had a pair of costly baserunning gaffes as the Washington Nationals won Sunday’s rubber game, 6-3, at Nationals Park.

The Mets (20-23) have failed to win any of their past five series, unless you generously split the Subway Series in half because the four games were played in two boroughs.

Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano combined to retire all nine batters they faced over the final three innings.

Wheeler surrendered five runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks in six innings.

Alex Brandon/Associated PressDaniel Murphy reacts to a called strike during the first inning Sunday.

Ian Desmond’s second-inning homer evened the score at 1. An inning later, after Ruben Tejada had a two-out fielding error on a backhand attempt on the outfield grass, Wilson Ramos produced a two-run double. Washington built a 5-1 lead against Wheeler on Ramos’ fifth-inning single, which plated the opposing pitcher Jordan Zimmermann as well as Denard Span.

The Mets have surrendered a hit to a pitcher in five straight games.

Wheeler maintained a 4.53 ERA while falling to 1-4. He also allowed five runs against the Yankees in his previous start, while logging 118 pitches in 4 1/3 innings in the Bronx.

Murphy’s flaw: Daniel Murphy continues to run into ill-advised outs on the bases.

Murphy extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning single and advanced to second on a one-out walk by Zimmermann to David Wright. Curtis Granderson then sent a grounder to first baseman Tyler Moore. Moore retired Wright at second base for the inning’s second out, and the Mets appeared poised to have runners on the corners with two outs and Lucas Duda due up. Instead, Murphy strayed too far around third base and was thrown out to end the inning.

Duda ending up producing a leadoff double off the right-center wall the following inning.

On May 4 at Colorado, Murphy -- trying to draw a throw home on a fake tag-up in the first inning -- was caught straying too far off third base and was retired 7-5-6 when the ball was cut off. Two days earlier, Murphy had been caught stealing at third base with Wright batting, similarly depriving the Mets of a potentially big first inning.

Murphy’s miscue on Sunday wasn’t the only mistake by the Mets on the basepaths.

After Juan Centeno produced a two-out RBI single for the second time in the game to pull the Mets within 5-3 in the sixth against Zimmermann, Centeno was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. That stranded Juan Lagares at third base. Lagares had delivered an RBI single earlier in that frame.

What’s next: The Mets take a day off Monday, then play 20 games in 20 days. Justin Turner and the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Citi Field for a three-game series beginning Tuesday. Rafael Montero (0-1, 4.50 ERA) makes his second major-league start in the opener. He opposes Josh Beckett (1-1, 2.38).

Series preview: Mets at Nats

May, 16, 2014
May 16

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets are due to face Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann this weekend at Nationals Park.
METS (19-21, fourth place/NL East) at WASHINGTON NATIONALS (21-19, second place/NL East)

Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-2, 2.17) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (2-1, 3.65), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Bartolo Colon (2-5, 5.84) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.97), 4:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-3, 4.53) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-1, 3.59), 1:35 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• Injuries have seriously struck the Nats, with five Opening Day starters already having spent time on the disabled list this season.

Nick Wass/Associated PressBryce Harper required surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left thumb after this April 25 slide into third base.

Left fielder Bryce Harper underwent surgery on April 29 to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. Harper (.289, 1 HR, 9 RBIs in 83 at-bats) is expected to be sidelined until July. He suffered the injury on a headfirst slide while tripling.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman broke his right thumb while getting picked off diving back into second base on April 12.

Adam LaRoche (.319, 5 HR) landed on the DL on Sunday with a right quadriceps strain.

Three others integral players are back after recovering from maladies:

Catcher Wilson Ramos, who suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand on Opening Day at Citi Field, returned May 7 after missing 32 games.

Right-hander Doug Fister, acquired during the offseason in a salary dump by the Detroit Tigers, has made two starts since opening the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation and a lat-muscle strain.

Denard Span spent a week in mid-April on the concussion DL.

Anthony Rendon has shifted from second base to third base in Zimmerman’s absence, with Danny Espinosa handling second base full time. Tyler Moore was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse to handle first base. Moore, who had been demoted basically coinciding with Ramos coming off the DL last week, returned after spending only three days in the minors. Minus Harper, four players have started in left field: Nate McLouth, Kevin Frandsen, Scott Hairston and Zach Walters.

McLouth, who signed a two-year, $10.75 million deal in December to defect from the Baltimore Orioles, is one of the few bench players struggling to handle the larger role. Originally signed as the fourth outfielder, he is hitting .117 with one homer and one RBI in 60 at-bats.

• The Nats have outscored opponents by 38 runs from the seventh inning onward, the best differential in the majors. They have outscored opponents 19-3 in the ninth inning.

• Nats relievers have a collective 2.28 ERA, which ranks third in the majors. Closer Rafael Soriano (1.18 ERA, eight saves) lost a career-best 25-inning scoreless streak Saturday, when he suffered his lone blown save this season, at Oakland. Drew Storen has a 0.568 WHIP -- with six hits and one walk allowed in 12 1/3 innings.

• The Nats signed lefty-hitting Greg Dobbs to a minor-league deal for potential pinch-hitting duty. Dobbs, 35, was released by the Miami Marlins after opening the season 1-for-13 with four strikeouts. Miami ate his $1.7 million contract. Dobbs has not yet been added to the big-league roster.

• After consecutive scoreless efforts (including a rain-shortened four-inning outing opposite L.A.’s Zack Greinke), Jordan Zimmermann allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings at Arizona on Monday while pitching on two extra days of rest. For his career, Zimmermann has a 2.99 ERA on standard rest and 3.89 ERA with extra rest. Zimmermann will have an extra day of rest before facing the Mets on Sunday.

• Subtract a May 3 outing at Philadelphia in which he allowed two homers and seven runs and Tanner Roark otherwise has a 2.45 ERA in six starts this season.

Morning Briefing: Can Dice-K lock up 5th?

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24

FIRST PITCH: One week from Opening Day, the Mets are winding down activity in Florida.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, with the pressure on him to claim the fifth-starter’s role, opposes St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller at 1:10 p.m. Monday at Tradition Field (SNY).

Monday’s news reports:

• Matsuzaka has been expected to be the fifth starter, but Jenrry Mejia is providing staunch competition. Mejia limited the Washington Nationals to one run on two hits and a walk in five innings Sunday.

There are business factors perhaps influencing the decision. Those factors potentially include the organization being able to delay Mejia’s arbitration eligibility by a year if he remains in the minors for the first month of the season.

A resolution should be known soon. The Mets would need to pay Matsuzaka $100,000 on Tuesday at noon to retain him if they do not guarantee him an Opening Day roster spot by then.

Read more on Mejia and Matsuzaka in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and

• The Mets officially released Kyle Farnsworth after informing him he would not make the Opening Day roster. Still, the Mets may re-sign Farnsworth within a couple of days, after Farnsworth has the opportunity to see if any other teams are interested. Read more in the Record and

John Lannan began his introduction to the bullpen Sunday with a 1-2-3 inning against the Nats. Lannan is projected to join a relief corps that also includes Bobby Parnell, Jose Valverde, Vic Black, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres and Scott Rice. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.

Jonathon Niese is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday, one week after receiving a cortisone shot in his left elbow to address inflammation. The Mets hope Niese pitches in two minor-league games, then is activated from the disabled list April 6 to face the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Read more in the Daily News and Star-Ledger.

Ike Davis departed a split-squad game against the Atlanta Braves at ESPN Wide World of Sports after four innings experiencing fatigue but uninjured, Sandy Alderson said.

Daniel Murphy (right calf) went 0-for-3 and flipped a ball between his legs to first base in time to record an out in his first Grapefruit League game in a week. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Curtis Granderson had a tiebreaking two-run homer against Drew Storen and the Mets beat the Nats, 3-1, at Tradition Field. In the other split-squad game, Juan Lagares walked and scored the lone run in a 4-1 loss to Freddy Garcia and the Braves at Disney.

From the bloggers … Joe D. at Metsmerized writes that the Mejia decision will be a litmus test for Alderson and his seriousness about a 90-win season. … Rising Apple also suggests logic dictates Mejia as the fifth starter.

BIRTHDAYS: Valverde turns 36.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Would it be a travesty if Daisuke Matsuzaka beats out Jenrry Mejia for a spot in the rotation?

Mets split games with Nats, Braves

March, 23, 2014
Mar 23
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Curtis Granderson produced a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning against Drew Storen and the Mets beat the Washington Nationals, 3-1, Sunday in a split-squad game at Tradition Field.

Jeurys Familia and Bobby Parnell each tossed scoreless innings.

The Mets dropped their other game, 4-1, to the Atlanta Braves at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

In that game, Carlos Torres allowed two runs on six hits while striking out four in four innings. Minor leaguers Joel Carreño and Cody Satterwhite gave up single runs. The Mets’ lone run came in the fourth against Freddy Garcia, when Juan Lagares walked and eventually scored on a groundout.

What’s next: Daisuke Matsuzaka tries to sew up the fifth-starter’s role when he faces the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. Monday at Tradition Field (SNY). Matsuzaka opposes right-hander Shelby Miller.

Rapid Reaction: Nats 3, Mets 0

September, 11, 2013

NEW YORK -- The suspense is over. The Mets have been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

And the depleted lineup again barely mustered a peep while making it official.

Victims of a one-hit shutout by Gio Gonzalez in Monday's series opener, the Mets were blanked this time by Dan Haren and four relievers on three hits as the Washington Nationals beat the Mets 3-0 Wednesday.

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesZack Wheeler suffered the loss despite surrendering only one run in seven innings.

The Mets (64-80) dropped a season-worst 16 games under .500.

Washington will bid for its second four-game sweep at Citi Field in three seasons in Thursday's matinee series finale.

The latest victim of a lack of support: Zack Wheeler, who surrendered only one run -- on a solo homer by Ryan Zimmerman -- in a 101-pitch effort spanning seven innings.

Wheeler had gone 36 innings without surrendering a long ball when Zimmerman led off the sixth with a solo shot that broke a scoreless tie. Wheeler had not allowed a homer in six games since the Diamondbacks' Aaron Hill took him deep on Aug. 10 in Phoenix.

Wheeler twice stranded two runners in scoring position -- in the first inning by striking out Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond consecutively and to end his outing in the seventh by coaxing a groundout from Jayson Werth.

Wheeler's line: 7 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K's, 1 HR.

He has now logged 163⅔ innings this season, 14⅔ innings more than he did a season ago. Wheeler likely has two starts left.

Vic Black surrendered a two-run double to Anthony Rendon in the eighth.

As for the Mets' offense, that came on a leadoff single in the fourth by Juan Lagares against Haren, a two-out single in the seventh by Josh Satin against Drew Storen, then Lagares' one-out bunt single in the ninth against closer Rafael Soriano.

Welcome back: In his first major league appearance since May 29, Ruben Tejada started at shortstop and went 0-for-3.

What's next: Aaron Harang makes his team debut as the Mets look to avoid getting swept. Harang went 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA in 22 starts with the Seattle Mariners this season. He opposes right-hander Tanner Roark (5-0, 0.94 ERA) in the rookie’s second major league start. He moved from the bullpen to displace Ross Ohlendorf.

Morning Briefing: Mejia re-emerges as arm

July, 27, 2013

Harry E. Walker/MCTJustin Turner ultimately left Game 2. He collided with Andrew Brown in the first inning.

FIRST PITCH: Better late than never for Jenrry Mejia, the one-time hyped prospect who has been derailed by injuries, including Tommy John surgery on May 16, 2011.

After Mejia's stellar season debut Friday, LaTroy Hawkins said: “That’s the first time I saw him pitch. Man, I heard that his ball moves like a DUI drunk. But I got a chance to see it today and I was really impressed.”

Opined Matt Harvey: “I don’t think he had a walk. That was huge for him to go seven innings and do what he did. It was fun to watch. He’s got nasty stuff, that’s for sure.”

Meanwhile, after splitting Friday’s pair of games with a disappointing ending to the nightcap, the Mets send Dillon Gee (7-7, 4.07 ERA) to the mound Saturday at 3:05 p.m., in a game televised by Fox. Gee opposes right-hander Dan Haren (4-11, 5.79).

Saturday’s news reports:

• Mejia dominated the troubled Nationals for seven scoreless innings and Daniel Murphy slugged two homers and produced five RBIs as the Mets shut out Washington, 11-0, in the matinee of a day-night doubleheader.

Harry E. Walker/MCTMatt Harvey received a no-decision despite allowing no earned runs.

The Mets, though, could not win for Harvey in the nightcap. Hawkins surrendered a walk-off homer to Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth and Washington salvaged a split with a 2-1 win. Harvey limited the Nats to one unearned run in eight innings. He failed to win a game for the seventh time this season in which he allowed one run or fewer. Only Roger Craig (eight, in 1963) has more such instances in a season in franchise history. Murphy, a Game 1 hero, said his error that led to the unearned run “cost us the ballgame.”

The Mets could have moved even with Washington for third place and to within a half-game of second-place Philadelphia with a Friday sweep.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and

• Mejia will stay at the major league level as the Mets plan to employ a six-man rotation. That will allow team officials to somewhat curtail the innings of Harvey and Zack Wheeler, who face caps. Harvey is up to 145 innings this season, leaving him roughly 75 remaining. Wheeler is at 107 1/3 innings between the majors and minors, leaving him about 72 innings. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis was demoted to Vegas after Friday’s nightcap, leaving the Mets with a four-man bench. That signals Eric Young Jr. is healthy enough to be back in the lineup after sitting out Friday’s games with a sore right knee. Nieuwenhuis had been hitless in his final 15 at-bats, and Terry Collins had anointed Juan Lagares the regular center fielder earlier in the day. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.

• Can the Mets can make a run at a playoff berth? Friday’s split did not help. The Mets actually lost ground. They are 10½ behind the Atlanta Braves in the division and 11 games back of the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild-card spot. Sixty-two games remain.

“We’ll have to play a lot better -- a lot more consistent,” Hawkins told Mike Puma in the Post. “But I was with the Rockies when we had that unbelievable run, we had the unbelievable September, so you never know. We’ve got to go play the Marlins, and they’re very tough against us. I’ve been on a lot of teams and there’s always one team that’s your nemesis. There is always that one team.”

• The Nationals demoted former closer Drew Storen to Syracuse late Friday, leaving teammate Tyler Clippard to express his displeasure. Storen once had 43 saves in a season, but had the rocky Game 5 of the NLDS last October. The Nats then went out and signed Rafael Soriano during the offseason.

“You basically send a guy a message this offseason for having one bad game -- that he’s not the guy for the job,” Clippard told Nats beat writers, according to The Washington Post. “He’s only human. It’s going to get to anybody. … Eight months later, you get to a point where he’s struggling, and you turn the page on him and you send him down. It’s not necessarily turning the page on him, because I think he needs to regroup and get out of this environment and take a deep breath and regather himself. I just think it’s been handled very poorly.”

Justin Turner was forced to leave Game 2 after his shoulder and leg tightened. Turner had collided with Andrew Brown on a first-inning catch in shallow left field. Read more in the Post.

• Read more on Lagares in the Star-Ledger.

• Read more on Murphy in the Record.

Jordany Valdespin went 4-for-4 and drove in all three runs, but Sacramento beat Las Vegas, 9-3. Jeff Walters set a Binghamton single-season saves record as the B-Mets split a doubleheader with Trenton. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Travis d’Arnaud (foot) and Lucas Duda (side) played full games Friday for the first time in the Gulf Coast League, in their third games with the club. Duda only served as the DH.

• Jeff Wilpon’s son Bradley, a right-handed pitcher, has committed to play baseball at the University of Pennsylvania, according to a source.

From the bloggers … Rising Apple looks at Mejia’s journey since 2010.

BIRTHDAYS: Nobody to appear in a game for the Mets celebrates a birthday today, but almost 24-plus-one-Met Alex Rodriguez turns 38. And Mets first-base coach Tom Goodwin turns 45.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you approve of the six-man rotation concept? Or do you want to maximize Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler’s starts?

Rapid Reaction: Mets 7, Nats 1

April, 19, 2013
WHAT IT MEANS: The Citi Field crowd said it best, chanting in the sixth inning: "Har-vey’s better! Har-vey’s better!"

That certainly was the case at least on this night, in a hyped matchup between Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg.

Harvey took a scoreless effort against the Washington Nationals into the seventh inning. Then, after surrendering a run, he wriggled free of a bases-loaded, no-out jam that teammate Daniel Murphy helped create.

Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press
Matt Harvey took a scoreless effort into the seventh, then really rose to the occasion.

The final score: Mets 7, Nats 1.

The crowd, announced at a paid 26,675, included Dwight Gooden. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda each homered twice.

Harvey ultimately limited the Nats to one run on four hits and three walks while striking out seven in a 105-pitch effort spanning seven innings.

Harvey’s ERA actually rose to 0.93. He has limited opponents to 10 hits and nine walks while striking out 32 in 29 innings this season.

He became the first Met since Pedro Martinez in 2006 to earn the victory in each of his first four appearances of a season.

The tense moment came in the seventh, which Harvey entered working on a two-hit shutout.

Adam LaRoche opened the inning with a walk and Ian Desmond and Chad Tracy singled as the Nats pulled within 4-1.

Steve Lombardozzi then hit into a would-be 4-6-3 double play. But as Ruben Tejada crossed the bag, Murphy’s flip was behind him, toward the third-base side of the infield. The duo failed to connect. Instead, Washington had the bases loaded and none out, trailing by three runs.

Tejada received a visit from trainer Ray Ramirez, but remained in the game.

Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press
Ike Davis homered twice Friday.

As Brandon Lyon warmed in the bullpen and Harvey’s pitch count approached triple-digits, the Mets’ ace stepped up.

Harvey struck out Kurt Suzuki and coaxed a foul pop-out to the catcher from Roger Bernadina, who was pinch-hitting for Strasburg. Denard Span then grounded out on Harvey’s final pitch as the Mets maintained a three-run lead.

Strasburg, who surrendered solo homers to Davis and Duda in the sixth that expanded the Mets’ lead to 4-0, matched a career high with his third straight loss. He allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks in six innings.

Davis also delivered a two-run shot in the eighth against Drew Storen. Duda again followed Davis' lead, with a solo shot that frame.

The Mets scored a pair of unearned runs in the first. Jordany Valdespin opened the half-inning by reaching on an error by Desmond at shortstop. Valdespin advanced to third on a single by Murphy and scored on a wild pitch. Murphy scored with two outs on a single by John Buck.

Harvey did not allow a hit until Strasburg’s one-out, opposite-field double in the third. The next hit came from Span on a single to open the sixth. Span was erased when the ensuing hitter, Jayson Werth, grounded into a double play.

WHAT’S NEXT: Jeremy Hefner, who served up two homers in an inning of relief Thursday at Colorado, starts for the first time since April 10. Hefner (0-2, 7.20 ERA) opposes left-hander Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 4.50) at 3:05 p.m. at Citi Field.

Series preview: Mets vs. Nats

April, 18, 2013

The Mets face (l to r) Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann this weekend at Citi Field.
METS (7-7, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (9-6, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Matt Harvey (3-0, 0.82) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 2.95), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.20) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 4.50), 3:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-3, 8.36) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 2.45), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• Catcher Wilson Ramos left Sunday’s game and landed on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain. Kurt Suzuki has filled in strongly, hitting .360 with a .485 on-base percentage through 34 plate appearances. Nats catchers collectively have an NL-leading .333 average and 1.158 OPS.

Joy R. Absalon/USA TODAY Sports
Bryce Harper had four hits Wednesday after missing a game with the flu.

Bryce Harper, who received intravenous fluids pregame and vomited during the game, nonetheless went 4-for-5 in his return to the lineup Wednesday after missing a game with the flu. Harper had been in an 0-for-13 rut before the breakout. He’s hitting .364 with a 1.090 OPS this season.

• Second baseman Danny Espinosa has missed three games with a bruised right hand, which he suffered getting struck with a pitch. He is 50-50 for a return Friday. Steve Lombardozzi has started three straight games in Espinosa’s absence.

Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 2.45 ERA) tossed his first career complete game Monday, in Miami. He has been the Nats’ top starter on a star-studded staff.

Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down last season after a Sept. 7 appearance at 159 1/3 innings, will not be held out of the postseason this year. While there is no formal limit, the goal is to keep Strasburg at about 200 innings. Two of Strasburg’s three highest career pitch counts have come in his last two starts. He threw 114 pitches on April 7 against Cincinnati, then 112 against the Braves last Saturday. His career high is 119 on June 8, 2012 against the Boston Red Sox.

Gio Gonzalez is coming off his worst start in two seasons as a National. He allowed seven runs in five innings as the Braves completed a weekend sweep with a 9-0 win against Washington on Sunday in D.C.

• While not a Chuck Knoblauch-type yips situation, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has mightily struggled making routine throws. He has four throwing errors in a five-game span. Zimmerman said his surgically repaired shoulder is fine and he is simply thinking too much about revised mechanics. The Nats have encouraged Zimmerman to throw more over the top this season.

• Like Harper, center fielder Denard Span had been slowed by the flu. He missed the Nats’ past two games. Span was acquired from the Minnesota Twins on Nov. 29 for minor league right-hander Alex Meyer. Span, the leadoff hitter, has produced a .421 on-base percentage. Jayson Werth slid from second to first in the order the past two games in Span’s absence.

• Davey Johnson became the 47th manager in major league history to suffer 1,000 losses on Sunday. Not to worry: Twenty-three of those managers are in the Hall of Fame. Johnson has a career 1,295-1,001 record. He was 595-417 in seven seasons with the Mets.

• The Nats added closer Rafael Soriano to an already deep bullpen on Jan. 17. The ex-Yankee signed for two years, $28 million, plus a $14 million team option for 2015. Soriano, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez combined for 87 saves last season.

• First baseman Adam LaRoche (.195, 2 HR, 5 RBIs) opened the season in an 0-for-15 slump before breaking out with a two-homer game April 9 against the Chicago White Sox. He earned his first Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards last year.

Mets 3, Nats 1: Duda goes deep

March, 23, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Lucas Duda belted a tiebreaking solo homer on a 90 mph fastball from Drew Storen in the seventh and the Mets beat the Washington Nationals, 3-1, Saturday at Tradition Field.

“He’s getting himself in a much better hitting position,” Terry Collins said. “You can tell he’s got more confidence when he goes up there. He’s taking tougher pitches. There’s been some real positives.”

Duda has four Grapefruit League homers.

Travis d’Arnaud added an eighth-inning RBI single.

Rafael Montero, borrowed from minor league camp for the start opposite Gio Gonzalez, tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

“I saw much better velocity than I saw early, better command of his breaking balls than I did early,” Collins said. “And, actually, I hope he really continues to work hard with his changeup. He has an outstanding change in the making. That’s going to really get [batters] off the fastball.

“You know, this guy is coming with rave reviews. He may not have the fastball [Zack] Wheeler’s got, but I had some minor league people tell me this winter: Don’t be surprised if he’s in the big leagues before Sept. 1. And I will not be, because I trust my minor league people very much. They have a good feel for it. They said the same thing about [Cory] Mazzoni.”

Game tidbits:

KNEE BEND: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, recovered from a bone bruise on his left knee, appeared in his first Grapefruit League in 20 days. Nieuwenhuis struck out against Storen as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, then remained in the game in center field.

Justin Turner, recovered from a sprained right ankle, started at second base and went 0-for-3.

ON EDGE: Josh Edgin surrendered a 1-0 lead in the seventh after first baseman Zach Lutz’s error on a would-be double play allowed the Nats to load the bases with none out. Edgin struck out Roger Bernadina before surrendering a game-tying sacrifice fly to Francisco Soriano.

After Edgin reloaded the bases with a walk to Justin Bloxom, he escaped further damage by fanning Jerad Head.

NO ZIP: Pedro Feliciano entered for Montero with two out in the fifth and plunked the lefty-hitting Bernadina. Feliciano, without showing his fastball, then coaxed an inning-ending fielder’s choice from righty-hitting Danny Espinosa.

The Mets must reach a decision on Feliciano by Tuesday. Given his fastball velocity has hovered in the 82-83 mph range and the Mets would need to free a 40-man roster spot to add him, it may be simpler and more justifiable to just have Robert Carson on the Opening Day roster as a complement to Edgin.

Carson, who is on the 40-man roster, surrendered a double in a scoreless eighth inning Saturday.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Collins said about Feliciano. “Even though his velocity isn’t where he wants it to be, he takes something off each and every pitch. You get one fastball that’s 84 mph, and you’re going to get another one that’s 82. … He has a feel for what he has to do to get guys out.”

Series preview: Mets at Nationals

August, 17, 2012

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Ross Detwiler, Edwin Jackson and Gio Gonzalez this weekend in D.C.
METS (56-62, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (73-45, first place/NL East)

Friday: LHP Johan Santana (6-8, 4.58) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (6-5, 3.18), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jon Niese (9-6, 3.67) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (7-7, 3.74), 7:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (2-4, 4.76) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (15-6, 3.29), 1:35 p.m. ET

Nats short hops

Jayson Werth returned to the outfield Aug. 2, nearly three months after fracturing his left wrist on a catch attempt against the Phillies. His return was interrupted for one game with a sore ankle, and he has hobbled a little bit since reentering the lineup Tuesday. Manager Davey Johnson primarily has used Werth in right field and Bryce Harper in center field, but flips them on occasion to try to get Harper a semi-breather.

• The slumping Harper is hitting .141 (9-for-64) with one homer and three RBIs in his past 17 games (16 starts). Teams are throwing a lot of breaking balls down and away.

• Shortstop Ian Desmond, who has missed four weeks with torn oblique, should be activated from the disabled list for Friday’s series opener. Desmond hit in a simulated game Thursday and will not require a minor league rehab assignment. Danny Espinosa has been capably filling in for Desmond at shortstop, and will now slide back to second base. Steve Lombardozzi (15-for-30 in his past seven games) should head from second base to the bench. Johnson will try to find ways to get Lombardozzi in the lineup. The 23-year-old rookie learned how to play left field this season.

Rob Leiter/Getty Images
Jayson Werth returned from a fractured wrist Aug. 2.

• The Mets do not face Stephen Strasburg this weekend, but his innings limit -- set at 180 -- has been a hot topic. Strasburg (14-5, 2.91 ERA) currently sits at 139 1/3 innings. After former Braves and Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone criticized the decision to shut down Strasburg later this season, citing how the Braves had success despite heavy workloads for pitchers, agent Scott Boras called in to ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” show to counter that argument. Boras noted that Steve Avery, whom he also represented, had faded from the majors before his 30th birthday after logging 667 1/3 innings over his first three full major league seasons, with the Braves under Mazzone.

Tyler Clippard remains the Nats’ primary closer, even with Drew Storen having returned after missing the first 3½ months of season following elbow surgery. Storen (5.79 ERA) has been erratic. He allowed four runs while recording only one out in a 6-1 loss at San Francisco on Tuesday. Johnson may try to find an occasional closing opportunity for Storen, but with an important game on the line, it will remain Clippard’s responsibility.

• Former Mets farmhand Jesus Flores wilted in a starting role behind the plate and has thrown out only six of 51 would-be base stealers this season. So the Nats acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki from the Athletics for minor league catcher David Freitas on Aug. 3 and optioned Sandy Leon to Triple-A Syracuse. Suzuki starts roughly two of every three games. Washington needed the veteran help because none of Flores’ sidekicks, including Jhonathan Solano and Leon, had major league experience.

• Three days after Suzuki’s acquisition, infielder Cesar Izturis was claimed off waivers from the Brewers, with Mark DeRosa landing on the DL with an abdominal strain. Izturis, acquired primarily for depth with Desmond out, is in at least slight danger of being a roster casualty Friday with Desmond expected to be activated. Still, with rosters expanding Sept. 1, Izturis appears more likely to survive, with rookie first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore (.281, 6 HR, 19 RBIs) instead optioned to Syracuse until rosters expand.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been on a prolonged hot streak since receiving a cortisone shot in his right shoulder. Zimmerman is hitting .346 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs and has a .417 on-base percentage in 48 games since June 24.

Michael Morse (.300, 11 HR, 40 RBIs) returned to lineup Wednesday after missing one game with a thumb injury. Morse officially has a 12-game hitting streak, during which he is hitting .320 with three homers and eight RBIs, although it just as easily could have been 23 games. The Phillies successfully appealed to MLB to have an Aug. 2 play, which initially was ruled a hit, switched to an error on shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

• Left-hander Ross Detwiler, the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft, out of high school in Missouri, is beginning to justify that selection after the Nats early this season vacillated between using him and Chien-Ming Wang in a starting role. Wang made a rehab appearance for Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday, but is unlikely to regain a rotation spot, or return before rosters expand.

• The Nats released Rick Ankiel and Xavier Nady in a three-day span at the end of July. Ankiel remains a free agent, while Nady has signed with the Giants and is playing at Triple-A Fresno.

Last series results

Washington won, 3-0, at Citi Field, July 23-25 (AP game recaps)

Nats 8, Mets 2 (10 innings): Bryce Harper homered his first time up in New York, then hit a tiebreaking single to key a six-run burst in the 10th. Shortstop Ruben Tejada’s error on a potential double-play ball set up the big 10th. Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run double and Michael Morse added a two-run homer as the Nationals broke away. The six runs tied the most the Mets had ever allowed in an extra inning. Never before had they lost consecutive extra-inning games by at least five runs. More

Nats 5, Mets 2: Adam LaRoche hit a tiebreaking homer and the Nationals handed R.A. Dickey his first loss in three months behind Gio Gonzalez’s seven crisp innings. Gonzalez (13-5) gave up only two singles in a rematch of All-Star pitchers, five days after New York hit him hard to back Dickey during his 13th win. Dickey (13-2) allowed five consecutive hits in the sixth, ending his 11-game winning streak. More

Nats 5, Mets 2: Stephen Strasburg struck out 11 in seven innings, Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa hit consecutive homers and the Nats completed a sweep. Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer for a second straight day, and Espinosa doubled and scored on one of the Mets' two errors in the Nationals' fifth win in a row. Other than allowing Ike Davis' blistering line drive into the right-field stands on the first pitch of the second inning and Daniel Murphy’s single in the next at-bat, Strasburg allowed only Josh Thole’s ground-rule double in the fifth and Jordany Valdespin’s single in the sixth. Strasburg reached double digits in strikeouts for the fourth time this season and seventh of his young career, striking out David Wright three times. More

Series preview: Mets vs. Nats

July, 23, 2012

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Nationals aces Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg at Citi Field.
METS (47-48, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (55-39, first place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Chris Young (2-4, 4.11) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-6, 2.35), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP R.A. Dickey (13-1, 2.84) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (12-5, 3.32), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-3, 5.85) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 2.85), 12:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• After struggling with a left oblique injury since mid-June, shortstop Ian Desmond landed on the disabled list Sunday, officially with a tear, which was more severe than expected when viewed on an MRI. Desmond (.286, 17 HR, 53 RBIs) is expected to miss at least a month. Danny Espinosa moves from second base to handle shortstop. The trickledown includes Steve Lombardozzi manning second base, Michael Morse in left field, Roger Bernadina in center field and Bryce Harper right field. Lombardozzi had been getting significant action in left field, with Harper in center field. Mark DeRosa now is the backup middle infielder.

• Outfielder Corey Brown will be promoted from Triple-A Syracuse to take Desmond’s roster spot. Brown was acquired from Oakland on Dec. 16, 2010 with Henry Rodriguez for outfielder Josh Willingham. He was hitting .300 with 21 homers and 58 RBIs in 370 at-bats in the International League.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Drew Storen was activated last week after missing the season's first 89 games.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s surge continued Sunday with two homers. Zimmerman is hitting .418 with nine homers, 19 RBIs and a .910 slugging percentage in July.

• Harper returned to the starting lineup Sunday despite fouling a ball off his left ankle during a bunt attempt in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. He departed that game after two innings, but reappeared off the bench in the nightcap. X-rays on Saturday were negative and Harper was diagnosed with a bruise. Harper went 1-for-5 in the series finale against Atlanta and is hitting .189 (7-for-37) with one RBI in his past 10 games (nine starts).

• The Nats won the final two games of their four-game weekend series against the second-place Braves to earn a split. Washington had squandered a 9-0 lead in the series opener en route to an 11-10 loss in 11 innings. Davey Johnson described his bullpen handling as the worst managerial job of his career.

Left-hander John Lannan, who despite a $5 million salary had spent the entire season in Triple-A (posting a 4.89 ERA with Syracuse), made a spot start in Saturday’s doubleheader nightcap. Lannan got things back on track for the Nats by limiting the Braves to two runs on five hits and two walks in seven innings. Lannan returned to the minors after the game. MLB teams can add a 26th active player for doubleheaders as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

• The Nats designated Rick Ankiel and Xavier Nady for assignment last week. Nady had just completed a 20-day rehab assignment for a wrist strain. Ankiel’s departure came to make room for the return of closer Drew Storen, who had missed the season’s first 89 games following surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow.

• Neither of Storen’s two appearances since returning has come in a closing capacity. Meanwhile, fill-in closer Tyler Clippard’s recent struggles continued beyond last week’s Mets series, which included homers by Jordany Valdespin, David Wright and Jason Bay in a two-day span. Clippard allowed a two-run triple in the ninth to Michael Bourn on Friday as the Braves overcame the nine-run deficit to hand a lead to Craig Kimbrel. Clippard walked Dan Uggla, delivered a wild pitch, then hit Paul Janish with a pitch preceding Bourn’s two-RBI triple.

Jayson Werth began a rehab assignment Saturday with Class A Potomac. Werth had been sidelined since breaking his left wrist on May 6 and undergoing surgery.

Stephen Strasburg allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings in the 11-10 loss to the Braves as his season innings count climbed to 110 1/3. The outing came on his 24th birthday.

Last series results

Washington won, 2-1, at Nationals Park, July 17-19 (AP game recaps)

Nats 5, Mets 4 (10 innings): Ross Detwiler and Sean Burnett had shut out the Mets over eight innings, but Tyler Clippard allowed a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin in the ninth. After the Nationals tied it 3-3 in the bottom half, the Mets went ahead in the top of the 10th. Then a madcap finish ensued. Tyler Moore stood at the plate when Pedro Beato threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded that allowed Ryan Zimmerman to score the winning run. Bryce Harper had tied it with a run-scoring triple off Tim Byrdak (2-1) before Beato entered with the bases loaded. More

Nats 4, Mets 3: Jordan Zimmermann pitched six scoreless innings, Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer and the Nationals hung on. Steve Lombardozzi added a two-run double for a 4-1 lead in the seventh as Washington handed a sixth straight loss to the Mets, who held a team meeting before the game. In the top of the seventh, Tom Gorzelanny had allowed a one-out double to Lucas Duda, who scored on Andres Torres’ single. Sean Burnett worked a scoreless eighth. Tyler Clippard, who blew his third save in the series opener, allowed solo homers in the ninth to David Wright and Jason Bay. Clippard then struck out Jordany Valdespin for his 15th save in 18 chances. More

Mets 9, Nats 5: David Wright homered twice and had five RBIs and R.A. Dickey won his 13th game as the Mets broke a six-game losing streak. Dickey (13-1) pitched 7 1/3 innings. He gave up four runs (three earned) and 10 hits. He walked one and struck out five. The Mets staked him to a 9-1 lead. More

Series preview: Mets at Nats

July, 17, 2012

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Ross Detwiler, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez during the midweek series.
METS (46-43, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (51-36, first place/NL East)

Tuesday: LHP Jon Niese (7-4, 3.73) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (4-3, 3.43), 7:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Chris Young (2-3, 4.28) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (6-6, 2.48), 7:05 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.66) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (12-4, 2.93), 12:35 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• Shortstop Ian Desmond, who has a nagging left oblique strain that prompted him to skip the All-Star Game, aims to return for Tuesday’s series opener. Desmond started the Nats’ first two second-half games in Miami, but was forced to bunt because it was uncomfortable to swing in the ninth inning Saturday. He since has missed consecutive games.

Desmond’s absence has prompted second baseman Danny Espinosa (an 85-point better hitter against left-handed pitching) to start at shortstop, with Steve Lombardozzi manning Espinosa’s position. Before the absence, Desmond was hitting .418 with six homers and 16 RBIs in a three-week span. Desmond’s 17 homers are tied for the Washington/Montreal franchise record for a shortstop with Orlando Cabrera, who reached that total in 2003.

Bryce Harper had an eventful weekend in Miami. He took advantage of napping infielders Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes as well as Josh Johnson to take third base uncontested Friday. Harper then drew taunts from Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen on Sunday. Guillen had informed umpires that Harper had too much pine tar on his bat. After swapping out his lumber for his next plate appearances, Harper pointed his new bat in Guillen’s direction. When Guillen called Nats manager Davey Johnson postgame to explain, Johnson told him, “Get the [expletive] away from me,” according to media reports. Harper, only 19 years old, joined teammates Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez on the NL All-Star squad.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has seven homers and 21 RBIs in his past 18 games, including a 3-for-3 performance Monday in Miami with a long ball. The surge coincides with receiving a cortisone shot three weeks ago in his ailing shoulder.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Ian Desmond has 17 homers, tied for the most by a shortstop in Washington/Montreal history.

• Closer Drew Storen has yet to appear this year following a 43-save season in 2011. He had surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow and has started a rehab assignment. The intention was for Storen to be activated to open the second half, but he developed arm fatigue in the minors. Interim closer Tyler Clippard has been so effective, though, Storen may not immediately take over closing.

Clippard did have an adventurous appearance Sunday. Trying to protect a 4-0 lead in the ninth, he loaded the bases on a single and two walks before getting out of the jam without surrendering a run. Clippard has been far more effective in save situations. In those 25 games, he has a 0.74 ERA and .120 opponent batting average, versus a 3.60 ERA and .208 opponent batting average in 15 non-save situations. Since Clippard took over the closer role in late May, he is 14-for-14 in save chances.

• Left-hander Sean Burnett, who has handled eighth innings as the primary setup man, is pitching through elbow tightness.

Jordan Zimmermann blanked the Marlins for six innings in the second-half opener. He and Justin Verlander are the lone major leaguers to make 18 starts this season and complete six innings each time. Zimmermann has allowed one earned run or fewer in 10 of his starts. Meager run support is the lone reason Zimmermann has a .500 record.

• Nats GM Mike Rizzo continues to maintain Strasburg will be shut down at roughly 160 innings. Strasburg’s previous high for a professional season is 123 innings, in 2010. Strasburg is currently at 105.

Jayson Werth, who fractured his left wrist on an attempted May 6 catch, is aiming for an Aug. 1 return.

• Left-hander John Lannan, who has spent the entire season at Triple-A Syracuse despite a $5 million salary, is expected to be promoted Saturday for a spot start in a doubleheader against the Braves. The new collective bargaining agreement allows a 26th active player for doubleheaders.

Ross Detwiler is firmly entrenched in the rotation with struggling Chien-Ming Wang now on the DL with a right hip strain.

• Ex-Met Xavier Nady is on a rehab assignment for a wrist injury.

Brad Lidge was designated for assignment June 17.

• Former Mets farmhand Jesus Flores took over the primary catcher responsibilities in mid-May with Wilson Ramos out for the season with a knee injury. Nationals catchers have thrown out only 10 of 59 would-be base stealers this season.

• First baseman Adam LaRoche is hitting .201 in 48 games since May 17.

Last series results

Washington won, 2-1, at Nationals Park, June 5-7 (AP game recaps)

Nats 7, Mets 6 (12 innings): Bryce Harper's single ended a back-and-forth game that saw the Mets rally from a 3-0 early deficit to take leads in the top of the eighth, 10th and 12th innings -- only to have the Nationals tie the game in the bottom of the frame each time. Scott Hairston hit a solo homer in the top of the 12th to give New York a 6-5 lead, but the Nationals rallied when Michael Morse led off with his second double of the game. Ian Desmond followed with another double for his third RBI. Reliever Elvin Ramirez (0-1) walked two batters to load the bases, and a fielder's choice by Xavier Nady left the bases loaded with two outs for Harper, who lined an 0-2 pitch to left field. The ball fell just in front of a diving Vinny Rottino. More

Nats 5, Mets 3: Edwin Jackson hadn't won a game in nearly eight weeks, and Adam LaRoche was in an 0-for-13 rut. Both came through. Jackson pitched seven effective innings, and LaRoche hit a three-run homer. LaRoche got the first-place Nationals off to a fast start, belting his ninth homer of the season in the first inning against Jeremy Hefner (1-3). Bryce Harper reached on an error by second baseman Daniel Murphy, and Ryan Zimmerman walked before LaRoche hit a drive into the right-field bullpen. More

Mets 3, Nats 1: R.A. Dickey baffled the Nationals, limiting them to four singles over 7 1/3 scoreless innings. Dickey (9-1) extended the longest shutout string of his career to 24 2/3 innings -- a span that began against Pittsburgh and continued against San Diego, St. Louis and the Nats. Lucas Duda hit his 10th homer, a two-run shot in the fifth against Chien-Ming Wang (1-2). Daniel Murphy, who earlier bounced into an inning-ending double play that left him in a 0-for-19 rut, added an RBI single. More

Series preview: Mets at Nationals

June, 5, 2012

US Presswire/Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Chien-Ming Wang with first place at stake in D.C.
METS (31-24, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (30-22, first place/NL East)

Tuesday: RHP Chris Young (1-0, 1.88 in 2011) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.80), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-2, 5.60) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (1-3, 3.17), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP R.A. Dickey (8-1, 2.69) vs. RHP Chien-Ming Wang (1-1, 6.43), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

Bryce Harper, who made his major league debut on April 28 at Dodger Stadium, is hitting .386 with three homers in his past 12 games. Harper is the reigning NL Rookie of the Month. The team leader in OBP at .380 and OPS at .922, he was drafted first overall two years ago. If Harper can maintain that OPS for the season, he would have the highest ever in the majors for a 19-year-old, surpassing Mel Ott’s .921. Fellow rookie Steve Lombardozzi (.309 average), who has settled into left field, also is off to a quick major league start.

• Closer Drew Storen (elbow) was transferred to the 60-day DL and should be out until the All-Star break. Fill-in Brad Lidge also is on the DL. The ex-Phillie began a rehab assignment following hernia surgery with Class A Potomac on Monday. He allowed three of the four batters he faced to reach base. Lidge is scripted for at least two more minor league relief appearances before returning from the disabled list. Henry Rodriguez, who had flopped as closer, has been idle since May 28 after slamming a door on his right index finger. Tyler Clippard, who primarily is handling the closing duties at this point, has converted his past four chances. Sean Burnett also converted a pair of saves last month after bailing out Rodriguez. If a situation arose with lefties due up in the ninth, Burnett might close over Clippard.

Zuma Press/Icon SMI
Bryce Harper has been as good as advertised for the Nats.

• With Wilson Ramos out with a torn ACL, former Mets farmhand Jesus Flores -- a Rule 5 selection by the Nats in December 2006 -- has now started 23 games behind the plate. Ramos underwent surgery Friday to repair a torn meniscus, and will need a second procedure to address the ACL tear. Flores had been tormented for years by shoulder woes.

Jayson Werth is on the 60-day DL after fracturing his left wrist in the outfield against the Phillies on May 6. Werth is expected to be sidelined until August.

• Cleanup hitter Michael Morse returned from the DL on Friday after missing the season’s first two months with a strained right lat muscle. Morse is manning right field, with Harper in center and Lombardozzi in left field.

Chien-Ming Wang will make his second start of the season Thursday. He missed the Nats’ opening 42 games with a strained left hamstring. Wang allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in four-plus innings against the Marlins last week after making one three-inning relief appearance. Wang’s return bumped Ross Detwiler to the bullpen.

• The Mets miss Stephen Strasburg (6-1, 2.35 ERA) and Gio Gonzalez (7-2, 2.31), but the Nats overall still rank first in the NL in ERA (2.95) and opponent batting average (.223). Washington’s 446 strikeouts are one shy of matching Milwaukee’s total for the league lead. Gonzalez was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for May.

• Left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez, who signed a minor league deal in May after recovering from offseason knee surgery, joined the Nationals on Sunday.

• Left-hander John Lannan remains at Triple-A Syracuse, where he is 4-5 with a 5.62 ERA in 10 starts. Lannan is earning $5 million this season.

• The Nats are 16-9 at home this season.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-his-last-29. Rick Ankiel, now coming off the bench, is 1-for-13 in his past six games.

• The Nats selected Santa Monica, Calif., prep right-hander Lucas Giolito in the draft Monday night, with the 16th overall pick. He was projected to be the top pick a few months back, before an elbow issue prematurely ended his senior season.

Last series results

Washington won, 2-1, at Citi Field, April 9-11 (AP game recaps)

Mets 4, Nats 3: Daniel Murphy singled home the winning run in the ninth inning and the undefeated Mets took advantage of a throwing error by reliever Henry Rodriguez. Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit his first major league homer for the Mets, who are 4-0 for the first time since 2007. After a surprising sweep of Atlanta, New York rallied from a three-run deficit. Several fans filed out chanting "Undefeated! Undefeated!" Miguel Batista got out of trouble in the sixth, Ramon Ramirez escaped a seventh-inning jam with a double-play ball and Jon Rauch (1-0) worked two hitless innings for his first win with New York. David Wright’s right pinkie was broken when he dived back to a base. More

Nats 6, Mets 2: Ross Detwiler (1-0) allowed two hits in five scoreless innings, struck out six and walked one, denying the Mets what would have been their first 5-0 start since 1985. Ian Desmond homered off Dillon Gee (0-1) leading off the game, and Jayson Werth had four of the Nationals' 13 hits and drove in a run. Werth began the season hitting 1-for-14. After Desmond's early homer, Werth's RBI single made it 2-0 in the sixth. Bobby Parnell relieved with two on, Daniel Murphy booted a grounder at second base for an error as Werth scored, and Wilson Ramos’ RBI double made it 4-0. More

Nats 4, Mets 0: The Nats let young ace Stephen Strasburg go past 100 pitches for the first time in the major leagues and he worked his way out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth inning of a one-run ballgame. Strasburg threw 108 pitches in outlasting Johan Santana for six innings in a marquee matchup of aces on the mend, and the Nationals' bullpen made the lead stand up on the 50th anniversary of the Mets' first game. Strasburg allowed two hits and struck out nine. Santana (0-1) allowed five hits in five-plus innings. His wild pitch gave Washington a 1-0 lead in the second inning. New York had only three hits, and Mets pitchers combined to walk 10 and hit one batter. New York's bullpen gave up two bases-loaded walks and an RBI grounder to Chad Tracy in the eighth. More



Daniel Murphy
.299 9 52 70
HRL. Duda 23
RBIL. Duda 69
RD. Murphy 70
OPSL. Duda .841
WB. Colon 11
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.48
SOZ. Wheeler 148