WASHINGTON -- It was a rematch between two power pitchers: Stephen Strasburg vs. Matt Harvey. But just like last week against the Mets, it went the Nationals' way as Washington won, 7-4, at Nationals Park on Tuesday night. The Nationals, who hit a season-high five home runs, increased their lead over the Mets in the National League East to 1 1/2 games.
Harvey was a little better than he was last Thursday. He was given a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a home run by Asdrubal Cabrera, but ended up losing the lead in the bottom of the inning as Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon hit back-to-back home runs to put Washington ahead, 2-1.
"His velocity started out good. He was 95, 96 miles per hour, then his velocity dropped to 92, 93 miles per hour," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "His slider wasn't as sharp as it usually is. You got to get them when they're down."
The next inning, Harvey didn't get any better, as the Nationals scored three in the fifth. Ben Revere scored on a sacrifice fly by Bryce Harper. Daniel Murphy then hit a monster two-run homer over the right-field wall to give Washington a four-run lead against his former club. Revere hit a solo shot in the seventh for his fifth career home run, and Wilson Ramos capped Washington's power display with his homer in the eighth.
"Today, our offense came alive. We hit some balls out of the ballpark," Baker said. "Like I said all along, this is a warm weather team. These guys are swinging like it. That ball was jumping out today. That's the first time we've seen that. But it can jump out on their side, too. That was really a tribute to our pitching today."
Strasburg improved to 8-0 with the win, and the Nationals are 14-0 in his last 14 starts, which extended the right-hander's franchise record. Strasburg lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowed two runs on four hits and struck out 11 batters. It marked the fifth time he has reached double digits for strikeouts this season.
After the game, it was obvious that Strasburg is more concerned about team victories than personal accomplishments.
"I think we are playing good ball. All we have to do is keep grinding. There is still a long way to go. Just take it one day at a time, try to get better at the right time," Strasburg said. "I'm trying to ride the roller coaster, stay consistent and be a good teammate every single day and do everything I can to help the team win the game."
The Mets, meanwhile, were left wondering what to do about their former ace, Harvey.
"We've got to think what's not just best for Matt, but best for us moving forward at the moment," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "There's a lot of things to consider."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rendon swinging hot bat: In his last 14 games, dating back to May 10, Rendon is 18-for-49 [.367] with a homer and nine RBIs. He has raised his batting average to .254.
"I'm finding holes I guess," Rendon said. "Someone told me that my hit rate -- or whatever stat people keep nowadays -- told me I'm hitting the ball harder than I have the past year or two years or whatever, but no results. Trying to continue to hit the ball hard."
Harvey Danger: Harvey's season-long woes his second and third time through the batting order once again afflicted him at Nationals Park. The Nats scored zero runs off him their first time through the order, then two, then three -- the big blow coming on Murphy's homer. That's a pattern Harvey has followed throughout the first two months of a so-far uninspiring season. More >
"You saw early, his velocity was good," Collins said. "There was life on his offspeed pitches. Just the two changeups [to Zimmerman and Rendon] got him in trouble."
Rivero comes through in the seventh: It looked like the Mets were on the verge of a big inning in the seventh. Baker took Strasburg out of the game with runners on first and second and two outs. Felipe Rivero entered and struck out Juan Lagares to end the threat.
"His leadership is off the charts. His baseball IQ is amazing. I've already learned a lot from him about hitting. Not saying that it helped me at all. He is such a great guy and great teammate." -- Strasburg, on Murphy
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
After Eric Campbell plated the Mets' second run of the game on a fielder's choice in the seventh inning, the Nationals challenged that Neil Walker, who broke up a would-be double play in the process, did not legally slide into second base. After review, it was confirmed that Walker did not violate the rule.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: Rookie left-hander Steven Matz will take the mound Wednesday for a 1:05 p.m. ET series finale at Nationals Park. Since giving up seven runs in his season debut, Matz is 6-0 with a 1.35 ERA in six starts.
Nationals:Tanner Roark gets the start against the Mets. In his last start, Roark defeated his longtime nemesis, the Marlins, with seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He is 5-0 with a 3.05 ERA in 11 career appearances (six starts) against the Mets.