Flushing, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – The Nationals’ bats stayed hot in the opener of a four-game series against the suddenly scuffing Mets.
Yunel Escobar had three hits and Bryce Harper added two, including a three-run double in the ninth inning to punctuate Washington’s 8-2 win over New York on Thursday.
The Nationals, a World Series favorite, finally seem to be picking up steam after a slow start. They have won a season high-tying three games in a row by beating up a couple of NL East rivals.
After getting 13 runs and 15 hits in each of their two wins over Atlanta this week — on the heels of a six-game losing streak, no less — they hung 12 hits on the Mets on Thursday night.
The outbursts have continued all the way to the end, with the Nats scoring a combined 10 runs in the ninth inning of the three games.
“We came in here with confidence,” Harper said. “It’s nice to see.”
The Mets have lost three in a row and five of their last seven since a 13-3 start to the season.
Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg (2-2) had seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings to earn the win. He settled down after giving up two early runs and retired 10 in a row before surrendering back-to-back hits in the sixth.
Mets righty Jacob deGrom (2-3) didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth but was gone before the end of the sixth. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year was charged with five runs — three earned — on five hits and two walks to suffer his second loss of the season to Washington.
He was knocked around in a second consecutive start after giving up six runs and eight hits in just five innings against the Yankees last Friday.
“You hate to admit it,” Mets manager Terry Collins said Thursday night, “but it’s a great experience for him. … You can’t rush the game. You have to let it come to you a little bit. I’m not too worried about it.”
The Nationals scored three runs on just one hit in the fourth inning.
Denard Span drew a leadoff walk — Washington’s first baserunner against deGrom — and Escobar reached on Wilmer Flores’ error at shortstop. Jayson Werth followed with an RBI single, Harper walked and Ryan Zimmerman drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. The third run scored on a groundout, making it 3-2.
DeGrom was pulled after giving up a single to Escobar, a double to Harper and consecutive RBI hits to Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos with one out in the sixth inning, which gave the Nationals a 5-2 lead.
Erik Goeddel walked Ian Desmond, but the Mets escaped the inning when center fielder Juan Lagares got Zimmerman on a one-hop throw to home plate on Danny Espinosa’s flyout.
Strasburg gave up consecutive singles to Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer to start the bottom of the sixth and was relieved by Aaron Barrett, who got the last two outs.
Duda hit a one-out single off Sammy Solis in the eighth but was stranded at first base. Drew Storen then pitched a perfect ninth inning for Washington.
The Mets scored their runs with a rally in the second inning that started at the bottom of the lineup with consecutive one-out doubles by Flores and Kevin Plawecki to plate the first run. Curtis Granderson drove in Plawecki with a two-out single.
Strasburg gave up two runs, six hits and a walk … DeGrom had four strikeouts … The Mets won two of three in a series against Washington to open the season.