NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey became the first pitcher in the Major Leagues to five wins by outlasting Max Scherzer in a battle of aces as the Mets defeated the Nationals, 4-0, at Citi Field on Friday.
Harvey scattered five hits over seven innings, despite striking out just three. But the right-hander walked just one and induced 12 ground balls, which New York's newly revamped infield converted into 10 outs.
"He was able to have a few of the curveballs for strikes. He elevated the fastball when he needed to," Nationals manager Matt Williams said about Harvey. "We had some chances against him. We know he is on a pitch count. We had some good at-bats. That one swing of the bat, we didn't have it tonight."
Scherzer was arguably more dominant, striking out 10 Mets against one walk over seven innings. He allowed a solo home run to Michael Cuddyer in the fourth inning that stood as the game's only run until Daniel Murphy's bases-clearing double in the eighth.
"When you have a No. 1 guy, it's great to have," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "Fans like to see home runs. But this was two [guys] who are great, going head to head on the mound."
For the Mets it was just their second home win against the Nationals in the last 17 meetings between the teams at Citi Field. The Mets snapped a three-game skid and remain in first place in the National League East with a 16-8 record.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cuddyer clocks one: Cuddyer became the first National League hitter to take Scherzer deep this season when his third home run of the year broke a scoreless tie in the fourth. Cuddyer took an outside fastball and lined it over Citi Field's new right-center-field fence, rare real estate for a right-handed hitter. Scherzer hadn't allowed a homer in his first 32 innings this season.
"The ball Cuddyer hit was a pretty good pitch. Michael is a good hitter. [Scherzer] elevated it a little bit. It wasn't a bad pitch to the outfield. But, yeah, Scherzer threw well," Williams said.
Murphy muscles it: Murphy's line drive to left off reliever Blake Treinen lured in Jayson Werth before turning him around and making him scamper after the ball all the way to the wall, bringing the Mets much-needed breathing room. After struggling against Scherzer all night, New York produced three eighth-inning hits. One apiece came from Juan Lagares and Lucas Duda, who both scored on Murphy's two-bagger.
"I broke in. Even if I don't slip, I catch it," Werth said. "I almost got it anyway. I don't remember the last time I [slipped] on the field. But either way, we still have to score a couple of runs there. That was more of the issue tonight."
Lagares lays out: New York's sensational center fielder showed off his impressive range again, this time in the fifth inning when he robbed Ian Desmond of a sure single. Desmond led off the inning by slicing a line drive into right-center. Lagares charged hard before diving to make a full-extension grab.
Taylor's motor is running: One scout compared Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor to Willie Mays on defense. One could see the scout's point. In the third inning, Taylor made a great running catch off the bat of catcher Kevin Plawecki.
"They got you ready for the Kentucky Derby tonight, because both of those guys are horses." -- Cuddyer, on Harvey and Scherzer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Harvey became the first Mets pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2006 to win each of his first five starts to start a season. Harvey also started his rookie season 5-0, but with four no-decisions sprinkled in between.
Collins challenged the ruling on the field after Bryce Harper was called safe attempting to steal second base in the sixth. Umpires overturned the call after a 1:53 review showed Dilson Herrera tagged Harper on the shoulder before his hand reached the base.
Nationals: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez hopes to have a better outing than he did in his last start against the Marlins in which he allowed six runs in five innings as he faces the Mets on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET. In eight career starts at Citi Field, Gonzalez is 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA. He has thrown one complete game at that stadium on Sept. 9, 2013.
Mets:Jon Niese suffered his first loss of the season last time out after allowing six runs to the Yankees. He looks to rebound and help the Mets win their second game in a row.
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. Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.