MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Harper praises Mets ace Harvey for stellar return

Harper praises Mets ace Harvey for stellar return

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals came away impressed with Mets right-hander Matt Harvey, who pitched in his first game since Aug. 24, 2013. Harvey was dominating as the Nationals dropped the rubber game, 6-3, on Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park.

Harvey, who missed more than a year because of Tommy John surgery, pitched six shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out nine. The only time Harvey was in trouble was in the second inning. The Nationals had runners on first and third with two outs, but Jose Lobaton struck out to end the inning.

Bryce Harper struck out three times against Harvey, and he wasn't surprised by what the right-hander did on the mound.

"He is always good. Taking a year off, it's just a setback that he had. Fortunately, he is going to come back and do what he does," Harper said. "We saw it in Spring Training. He did very well in Spring Training. He came back today. He did what he had to do. He shut us down.

"He is tough out there. I said it a million times. He is going to win a Cy Young [Award[ one day. Everybody knows that. It's one of the toughest at-bats I've ever had. He is very tough out there. He is a very good pitcher."

Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla went 1-for-2 against Harvey. It's obvious to Uggla that Harvey put in the hard work to make the comeback.

"He was throwing hard today, hit his spots. He looked good," Uggla said. "I expected more out of us to get things going. But he did a great job of not letting us do that."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.