The Washington Nationals hit three home runs in two innings and Gio Gonzalez struck out six in his six innings of work, earning his Major League leading 19th win as the Nats beat the New York Mets 5-1, before 21,923 at Citifield.
Gonzalez (W, 19-7, 2.93) might not have had his best start of the season — he did walk five in his six innings. But he only allowed three hits to go along with the walks, therefore limiting any possible damage the Mets could have done to him. In fact, the only run the Mets scored all night was Scott Hairston’s solo home run in the fourth inning off Gonzalez.
The Nats (87-54) had plenty of big flies of their own.
Kurt Suzuki started the barrage leading off the third inning. Two pitches after Mets catcher Kelly Shoppach failed to handle a foul pop from Suzuki, the nats catcher clobbered a shto to left field that fell into the first row of stands above the Mets party deck in left field. Two outs later, Bryce Harper drew a five-pitch walk ahead of Ryan Zimmerman’s 21st homer of the season, a no-doubt about it shot to center. Harper sat on an off-speed pitch from Mets starter Collin McHugh (L, 0-2, 3.60), went down and golfed it to the batter’s eye.
In the fourth, Michael Morse singled to lead off, and Ian Demsond smacked his 22nd homer to right center to end the Nats scoring for the evening. In fact, the Nats didn’t get another hit all evening. But they had all the runs they needed already. Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard all provided scoreless innings of relief in shutting down the Mets attack.
THE TAKEAWAY: The Nats magic number for the division — pending the outcome of the Atlanta-Milwaukee game — is now down to 16. The division lead will be no less than 5 1/2 games going into play on Thursday.
THE GOOD: Gio. Gonzalez leads the N.L. in fewest hits per nine innings and he just lowered that number again Monday night. The walks have to be concerning, but he was able to mitigate them by only giving up the three hits.
THE BAD: Danny Espinosa went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
THE UGLY: Bryce Harper was thrown out stealing after walking in the first inning. That’s the sixth time in 19 attempts this season.
THE STATS: Five hits, 4 BBs, 9 Ks. 0-for-3 with RISP, 3 LOB, no GIDP. No errors, 2 DPs.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 7:10 pm against the Mets. Jordan Zimmermann (10-8, 2.99) faces R.A. Dickey (18-4, 2.64).