NEW YORK - Dusty Baker didn’t hesitate to throw Trea Turner back to the wolves tonight, sending his leadoff man up to bat for the first time in 13 days with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game in the top of the 11th, with Jeurys Familia on the mound for the Mets.
Turns out Turner didn’t need to take the bat off his shoulder to drive in the winning run.
Turner drew a four-pitch walk off Familia to allow Bryce Harper to trot home with the run that gave the Nationals a 4-3, extra-inning victory over the Mets to open a key weekend series.
Harper started the winning rally by doubling off Josh Smoker, his seventh hit in eight at-bats against a lefty so far this season. Three straight walks (one intentional) was all the Nats needed after that to manufacture the run.
Shawn Kelley pitched the bottom of the 11th to notch his third save in four days and lock up the Nationals’ fifth straight victory.
The Mets had a golden opportunity to win in the bottom of the ninth when they put men on second and third with two out, taking advantage of a missed double-play opportunity by Daniel Murphy. But Joe Blanton got Juan Lagares to fly out to left, quashing that rally and sending the game into extra innings.
The first of 19 head-to-head matchups between these division rivals lived up to the billing, with big names from each team delivering loud home runs and two quality starters tossing quality starts.
Tanner Roark allowed three runs over 6 2/3 innings for the Nationals. Matt Harvey one-upped him by the slimmest of margins, allowing his three runs over seven innings.
The specter of Harvey on the mound used to terrify the Nationals, and specifically Harper. That changed last season when the Nats beat the right-hander three times and left him with a 9.53 ERA before he landed on the disabled list for the remainder of the year.
In spite of his team’s newfound success, Harper still hadn’t been able to personally solve Harvey. Until tonight. The slugger entered the game 1-for-26 in his career against Harvey. One inning in, he was 2-for-27 with a towering, two-run homer to center.
Harper later drove a ball to the warning track in left field, just coming up short of his league-leading eighth homer of the young season.
The Mets jumped right back against Roark, with Michael Conforto hammering his very first pitch of the night to left to trim the deficit in half. They then tied the game in the bottom of the fourth after a sloppy defensive sequence in which Murphy missed the first of his two opportunities for an inning-ending double play in this game, opening the door for Curtis Granderson to single home a run and then advance to second when Jose Lobaton’s throw sailed into center field.
Jose Lobaton atoned for the mistake, though, and only a few minutes later, when he homered to nearly the same spot Harper’s earlier blast landed. The backup catcher, starting for only the second time this season, had his first hit in seven attempts.
The 3-2 lead was short-lived, though, because Granderson drove a sixth-inning pitch from Roark into the second deck in right field, leaving the game tied again heading into the final frames.
It remained that way through the seventh after Oliver Pérez, who induced a key out from Freddie Freeman during Thursday night’s win, got Jay Bruce to line out to right with the bases loaded.
Perez’s escape act secured a quality start for Roark, giving the Nationals rotation 14 of those in 16 games to open the season. And the veteran lefty wasn’t done. He returned to the mound in the eighth and retired the side, striking out a pair.