NEW YORK -- The battle between the Nationals and Mets began with flair Tuesday night at Citi Field, then it turned into an expected pitchers' duel that ended in a 2-0 win for New York in the first game of the season between the two rivals. Only a half-game separates the first-place Nats and the Mets in the National League East.
Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard pitched seven dominant innings, allowing five hits and striking out 10.
"It always helps when you have a horse you can ride on that mound," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We played good, but we pitched great."
Addison Reed relieved Syndergaard with a perfect eighth, including two strikeouts, and Jeurys Familia tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his 13th save.
Right-hander Max Scherzer wasn't as powerful as he was last week, when he struck out 20 Tigers. Still, he struck out 10, while allowing two runs and three hits over 6 1/3 innings.
Two of the hits Scherzer allowed proved to be lethal, starting with Curtis Granderson's leadoff homer over the right-field wall on Scherzer's first pitch of the game. Two innings later, Michael Conforto clubbed his sixth home run of the season, also a solo shot to right.
Scherzer has now allowed 13 home runs, which is tied for the most in the Major Leagues.
"The home runs have been his nemesis all year," Baker said. "If you give up two solo home runs against a lesser pitcher, you usually are not going to lose. Syndergaard was throwing the heck out of the ball. So we didn't have a whole bunch of opportunities."
"Just trying to make it unpredictable," Syndergaard said. "Trying to make them uncomfortable."
The Mets broke a four-game losing streak, while the Nationals have dropped their last three games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Murphy returns:Daniel Murphy played at Citi Field for the first time since last year's World Series against the Royals. He went 1-for-3 and is now hitting .399 for the season. Murphy received two standing ovations, one during a pregame video tribute on the Citi Field scoreboard and another before his first at-bat.
"It was really nice. It was very nice of the organization to play that video montage before the game.They didn't have to do that. The ovation from the crowd left me humbled to say the least." More >
Granderson strikes fast: The last time the Mets saw Scherzer, he threw 109 pitches and they didn't get a hit. Tuesday, Granderson homered on the first pitch of the first inning for the second time this season, his 38th career leadoff homer. Among active players, only Jimmy Rollins has more. More >
10 K's and 1 DP: Syndergaard reached double-digits in strikeouts for the second time this season and the seventh time in 32 Major League starts. But the one time the Nationals had a real scoring threat against Syndergaard, he got out of it without throwing the ball by anyone. In the second inning, Ryan Zimmerman doubled with one out, and Anthony Rendon followed with a single that gave the Nationals runners at first and third. Syndergaard threw Wilson Ramos three straight fastballs, and the third one turned into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. More >
Harper held in check: The Mets took their chances by pitching to Harper, and it paid off as the superstar went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Since April 26, Harper is 10-for-55 (.182) with two home runs and six RBIs. He also had his career-best 10-game streak with a walk come to a close.
"He's special, man. No stage is too big. No moment is too big." -- Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki, on Syndergaard
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• With his 10 strikeouts, Scherzer matched Indians right-hander Corey Kluber for the record among active players for strikeouts in a two-game span, with 30.
• The Mets have improved to 9-3 in their last 12 games against the Nationals.
After singling with one out in the sixth, Nationals center fielder Ben Revere attempted to steal second base and was called out. Baker challenged the play, which was ruled to stand after review.
In the eighth, Murphy took a bad throw from third baseman Anthony Rendon, stepped on second and made a determined throw to first base to try to complete a double play on Asdrubal Cabrera's grounder. Cabrera was initially called save, but after a crew-chief review, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals:Gio Gonzalez will start the second game of this three-game series against the Mets on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Gonzalez pitched at a slower pace this past Friday against the Marlins, and while that usually spells trouble for him, he didn't allow a run in five innings and ended up with a no-decision.
Mets:Bartolo Colon starts for the Mets on Wednesday night. Honored before Tuesday's game for hitting his first Major League home run, Colon is coming off his worst start of the season, allowing five runs over five innings in a loss to the Dodgers.