In the battle of the National League East pitching phenoms, Matt Harvey (4-0) emerged the victor against Stephen Strasburg (1-3) as the Mets pulled away with a 7-1 win.
The crowd of 26,675 at Citi Field sounded twice their size on two occasions Friday night – the first as cheers of “Harvey’s better!” erupted, and the second as “U-S-A!” reverberated through the stadium after Citi Field announced the second suspect in the Boston manhunt had been captured.
Despite the fact Strasburg held the Mets to just two runs through the first five innings of his stint, Harvey out-pitched him in every capacity. In fact, in seven innings pitched, Harvey allowed just one run, four hits and three walks and struck out seven.
Jayson Werth represented the Nats’ only base runner in the first, after drawing a one-out walk on six pitches.
The Mets, on the other hand, took advantage of a fielding error by Ian Desmond that awarded Jordany Valdespin first base to lead off. Daniel Murphy followed up with a single and, with David Wright batting, Strasburg tossed a wild pitch, allowing Valdespin to score.
Fortunately for Strasburg, Wright flew out to right and Ike Davis struck out swinging.
John Buck, however, singled to left to bat in Murphy and make it 2-0 Mets before the inning was over.
Harvey retired the side in the second – striking out Desmond and Chad Tracy and forcing Steve Lombardozzi to pop to Wright.
Marlon Byrd led off the bottom of the inning with a double, but Strasburg avoided a jam by retiring the next three batters.
The Nats failed to threaten and, in the bottom of the six, the Mets caught up with Strasburg yet again.
Davis led off with a solo shot to center and, with one out, Lucas Duda rocketed a four-seam fastball to make it 4-0 New York.
In the seventh inning, the Nats worked Harvey into a jam at last. Adam LaRoche led off with a walk before Desmond singled and Tracy batted in LaRoche on a line drive single to left.
Lombo reached first on a force attempt, made complete by Murphy’s throwing error at second, but Harvey returned to true form in time to catch Kurt Suzuki chasing a slider for strike three.
Harvey then forced pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina to pop to Buck behind the plate for the second out before jamming Denard Span on an 89 MPH fastball to end the inning.
The Nats called upon Zach Duke to hold things together coming out of the stretch – and that he did – but too much damage had already been done.
Davis tacked on two more insurance runs for the Mets in the eighth on another home run – this time off Drew Storen – and Duda made it an official repeat of the sixth with a solo shot to center off Storen’s sinker to make it 7-1 mets.
THE GOOD: It’s a bit of a challenge to find much good for the Nats coming out of Friday’s matchup. One could hope they’ve exhausted the Mets of their scoring potential for the series – but that could also be wishful thinking. Zach Duke provided an event-less inning of relief.
THE BAD: The Nats managed only four hits – yes, count them, four – against the Mets’ pitching. Only Denard Span, Ian Desmond, Chad Tracy and Stephen Strasburg himself reached base safely after making contact.
THE UGLY: Stomach flu symptoms or not, Bryce Harper went 0-for-4 Friday night
THE STATS: 1 R, 4 H, 3 BB, 8 K, 1-for-8 RISP
NEXT GAME: Saturday, 3:05 vs. Mets – RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-3) vs. Gio Gonzalez (1-1)