NEW YORK -- It was supposed to be power vs. power between Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey, but it turned out to be a one-sided affair as the Nationals pounded the Mets, 9-1, at Citi Field on Thursday night. The Nationals took two out of three games in the series between National League East rivals and remain in first place in the division, one game ahead of the Phillies.
"This means I would like to do the same thing in Miami. We are just starting this road trip, so we have to keep it rolling," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "We have some guys that are starting to swing the bat pretty good in the series."
Strasburg improved to 7-0 with a solid outing, pitching six innings and allowing one run on six hits with 10 strikeouts. It was the fourth time this season he's struck out 10 or more in a game. The Mets' lone run came when Yoenis Cespedes scored on a single by Asdrubal Cabrera in the second inning, which made it a 2-1 game after former Met Daniel Murphy had hit a two-run homer in the first.
That would be the closest New York would come to catching the Nationals, who scored seven runs in the third inning off Harvey. Anthony Rendon (two-run double), Wilson Ramos (two-run single) and Ben Revere (two-run triple) highlighted the scoring in the inning.
"You see guys like Anthony driving in runs, that makes you feel good. The guys are saying, 'That's the Anthony we know,'" Baker said. "We still have a couple of guys [that need to swing the bat]. We still have some work to do. I'm hoping that the rest of the guys feel like they are getting it together."
Harvey endured the worst outing of his career. The nine runs (six earned) are the most he's allowed in a game, and the 2 2/3 innings represent his shortest start.
"Everybody saw the game," Harvey said. "It's pretty obvious what happened. I'm not happy with it."
Mets manager Terry Collins, who believes Harvey is battling confidence issues, said it's possible the right-hander won't make his scheduled start next week in Washington.
"We're going to take a look," Collins said. "Is that best for him? Is that best for us?"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Nats score seven in the third: The third inning marked the first time this season the Nationals have sent as many as 11 batters to the plate in one inning, besting the previous high of 10 (done twice: April 19, top seventh against the Marlins; April 15, top first against the Phillies).
Rough night for Dark Knight: The Mets were actually somewhat encouraged when Harvey came out in the first inning and threw a couple of 96-mph fastballs. But he hung an 0-2 curveball to Murphy for a two-run homer in the first and didn't react well after shortstop Cabrera's error allowed a run to score in the third. Harvey's fastballs after the first inning were mostly 93-94 mph, and the Nationals hit him hard in the seven-run third. More >
Murphy goes home again: Murphy gave Washington the lead with his homer in the first inning. He went 4-for-11 (.364) with a homer and four RBIs in the three-game series against his former team. Murphy played for New York from 2008-15 and was a major reason the club reached the World Series last year. More >
"It was nice getting two out of three. … Big series for us. It's really nice to go on the road in the division to get two out of three," Murphy said.
Mets' offensive struggles continue: While Harvey was the main issue Thursday, the Mets had another difficult night at the plate. It was the ninth time in 18 games this month they've been held to two runs or fewer.
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The Nats have won Strasburg's last 13 starts, breaking Jordan Zimmermann's franchise (Expos/Nats) record of 12.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals:Tanner Roark hopes to have better luck against the Marlins in the series opener on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. All three of his losses this season are against Miami. In the second game of a doubleheader last Saturday against the Marlins, Roark had his worst start of the season, allowing seven runs in five innings.
Mets:Steven Matz returns to the rotation for the first time since complaining of soreness in his left elbow and forearm, as the Mets open a series against the Brewers on Friday at 7:10 p.m. at Citi Field. Matz, who missed one start, was examined and cleared by Mets doctors on Monday, and he came out of a Wednesday bullpen session with no issues.