NEW YORK - Making his third major league start, Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler retired the Nationals in order in dominating fashion in the first inning, striking out two.
Things went a little differently in the second.
The Nats scored four runs on Wheeler in the second inning, putting five runners on base, three via extra-base hits.
Adam LaRoche demolished the first pitch Wheeler threw in the inning, turning around a 95 mph heater and sending it off the railing of the second deck in right. It was LaRoche’s 12th homer of the season.
Jayson Werth followed by drawing a four-pitch walk, and he then came around on Ian Desmond’s rocket of a double to the gap in right-center.
Two batters later, Kurt Suzuki got a grounder just through a drawn-in Mets infield, allowing Desmond to score, and Suzuki then came in to score from first on Denard Span’s double to the left-center gap.
Span fell behind in the count 1-2, worked it full, fouled off two Wheeler fastballs and then drove another heater up the gap for his 20th RBI of the season.
Desmond now has 26 RBIs this month, tied for the second-most in a single month in Nationals history, behind Adam Dunn, who had 27 RBIs in May of 2009.
The Nats couldn’t manage much against Dillon Gee yesterday, but they’ve hit Wheeler - one of the top pitching prospects in the majors coming into this season - hard today, and have given Gio Gonzalez a nice 4-0 lead to work with.
Update: The Nationals are teeing off on Wheeler’s fastball today. Werth is the latest to give a Wheeler heater a ride.
The Nats right fielder crushed a 1-1 fastball into the seats in left-center, making the Washington lead 5-0. It’s Werth’s eighth homer of the season.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, has retired eight in a row and struck out five since Suzuki came out for an animated mound visit after a Daniel Murphy single and David Wright walk in the first.
The lefty had a 2.25 ERA over his last nine games coming into today’s outing, and he looks locked in this afternoon, as well.
Update II: Wheeler is done after just 4 2/3 innings today, having allowed five runs on six hits. The Nats worked the Mets’ stud prospect for 89 pitches, just 54 of which were strikes.
The Nats scored just two runs in 13 innings off Mets starters Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee in the first two games of this series, but they had no problems getting to the rookie Wheeler today.
It’s still 5-0 after five, as Gonzalez has allowed just two hits and struck out six thus far.
Update III: Through 7 1/2 innings, the Nats have 11 runs on 12 hits.
Nine of the 12 hits have been for extra-bases.
Every starting position player has at least one hit and one RBI. LaRoche, Werth and Suzuki all have home runs. Span has two doubles.
Gonzalez pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and two walks. He struck out seven and threw a whopping 84 strikes among his 119 pitches (71 percent strikes).
When it all comes together, this Nationals team can be pretty darned good. Not like we didn’t know that already.
Update IV: The Nats set a season-high with 13 runs scored. They very nearly set a team record for most lopsided victory. They slugged 10 extra-base hits.
Having fun yet?
The Nats beat the Mets 13-2 today, giving them a series win on the road and getting them back above .500 at 41-40. Only a two-run homer from John Buck with two outs in the ninth prevented the shutout and the largest margin of victory for the Nats in team history. It will remain 12.
Next is a seven-game homestand, starting with four against the Brewers. And Bryce Harper might return to a lineup that just did some pretty special things today.