NEW YORK -- A day after Noah Syndergaard went right after Bryce Harper in a Mets win over the Nationals, Bartolo Colon mostly avoided him -- and paid the price. Seven combined walks for Harper and Jayson Werth played a significant role in the Nationals' 7-1 win over the Mets, who mustered little offense of their own against Gio Gonzalez.
Daniel Murphy's RBI single in the third inning and Anthony Rendon's two-run hit in the fifth both capped rallies in which Harper walked to move Werth into scoring position. After Colon departed, the Nationals scored additional runs on a Murphy sacrifice fly and -- fittingly -- a Danny Espinosa bases-loaded walk. Mets pitchers issued 11 free passes in total, hitting another two batters with pitches.
"We're better than that," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We're a lot better than that."
It was plenty of offense for Gonzalez, who gave up a Yoenis Cespedes solo homer but little else over 6 1/3 innings. The Mets did not string together multiple baserunners in an inning until the seventh, when Felipe Rivero wriggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam to preserve a 5-1 lead.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Making BB-artolo pay: It had been over 11 years since Colon last walked five batters in a game, and the Nationals made sure to make him pay. Shortly after Colon issued consecutive free passes to Werth and Harper in the third inning, Murphy drove home Washington's first run with an RBI single off third baseman David Wright's glove. Two innings later, Rendon's two-run hit came three batters after Colon walked Harper for the third time in the game.
"I won't really think back on this," Colon said, noting that he was not pitching around Harper on purpose. "I'll be ready for [my next] start as a fresh start." More >
Shades of Willie Mays: The box score shows only that Murphy drove home the Mets' fourth run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, and that's the problem with box scores. As it actually went down, Murphy drove a ball to deep center field, where Juan Lagares tracked it down in time to make a terrific over-the-shoulder catch, robbing Murphy of extra bases. Though Ben Revere scored easily on the play, Lagares prevented the damage from being far worse.
"It was a really nice play," Murphy said. "He has a shot to catch everything. I've seen him out there too much. It was a really good play. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was a sac fly. He made a really nice play." More >
Lineup switch: Nationals manager Dusty Baker decided to move Werth from the sixth spot in the lineup to the two hole. It worked out, with Werth going 2-for-2 with three walks and three runs scored. Werth raised his batting average to .222. More >
Gio loves Citi Field: Gonzalez is almost untouchable at Citi Field, entering Wednesday 6-1 with a 1.54 ERA in 11 games. He was just as good on this day, striking out five and allowing five hits to improve to 3-1 with a 1.86 ERA overall this season.
"Gio continues to be one of our best pitchers," Baker said. "He's getting better and better. And that seventh inning, I told [catcher Jose Lobaton] to try to make sure he gets some extra warmup pitches if he can, but he said his ritual is not to get any more. I guess he's super honest and didn't take any more. I told him, 'Next time get some more if you can, especially when you're sitting around for a long time.'"
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
In their 55-season history, the Mets have hit multiple batsmen and walked 11-plus batters in the same game only 10 times. They have lost all 10. Only nine clubs in modern-day history have won a game in which they walked at least 11 batters and hit at least two.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Moments after Rendon put the Nationals ahead with his two-run single in the fifth inning, the Nationals third baseman attempted to steal second base. Second-base umpire Chad Fairchild initially called Rendon safe, but an 88-second review overturned that ruling.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals:Stephen Strasburg will face the Mets for the 10th time in his career in Thursday's 7:10 p.m. ET finale, and he is 4-3 with a 2.78 ERA against them. Last week, Strasburg made his first start after signing his seven-year, $175 million contract, going six innings and allowing three runs on five hits against the Marlins to improve to 6-0.
Mets: All eyes will once again be on Matt Harvey, as the right-hander looks to shake off his early-season struggles once and for all. Not a lot has gone right so far for Harvey, whose 4.93 ERA includes at least two earned runs in all eight of his starts.