Tanner Roark churned out his customary seven innings of scoreless ball. All the Nationals had to do was score one run somehow, some way to ensure the effort from their bulldog right-hander wasn't wasted.
Enter Wilson Ramos, who took care of business with one mighty swing in the bottom of the seventh to move his team another step closer to the National League East crown.
Ramos' solo homer deep into the Red Porch seats in left-center field broke what had been a deadlock all afternoon between the Nationals and Mets. And thanks to some lockdown work from their bullpen after that, the Nats emerged with a 1-0 victory in the final regular season matchup between these two rivals.
There's a chance they could meet again later in October, but the Mets' only realistic postseason hope now involves the wild card. The Nationals have opened up a 10-game lead in the NL East with 16 to play, their magic number down to seven.
And with a nine-game road trip to Atlanta, Miami and Pittsburgh next on the schedule, the Nats most likely will return home for the season's final week with the division title already in their possession.
What was expected to be a tight showdown this season between the Nationals and Mets never really materialized. The Nats went 12-7 in the season series and have held a commanding lead through most of the late summer.
They capped things off with today's victory, riding yet another dominant performance from Roark, who pitched seven scoreless innings for the ninth time this year, tops among all MLB starters. In the process, he improved to 15-8 with a 2.75 ERA.
Bench coach Chris Speier, filling in for the day after manager Dusty Baker had to leave the club following a death in the family, turned to Blake Treinen and Mark Melancon (pitching for the fifth time in six days) to record the final six outs.
Roark and Robert Gsellman locked horns 11 days ago at Citi Field, with the Mets rookie emerging with a 3-1 victory. This time, neither right-hander was willing to buckle, each pitching his way out of jams along the way.
Roark got himself in trouble in the top of the first when he loaded the bases with one out, but he battled back to strike out Jay Bruce looking at a two-seam fastball and then got a nice play in the right field corner by Bryce Harper on T.J. Rivera's foul ball.
Roark got better and more efficient as his afternoon progressed. He faced the minimum over his final three innings, giving him seven scoreless frames yet again.
Gsellman, meanwhile, navigated his way through 5 2/3 scoreless innings thanks in large part to a pair of strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double plays. One of those included Trea Turner getting thrown out at second base, only the fourth time the rookie has been caught stealing in 28 tries, and the first time it happened without the aid of instant replay.
The Nationals didn't advance their first runner into scoring position until the bottom of the sixth, when Roark singled and took second on a wild pitch. But rookie left-hander Josh Smoker (one of the Nationals' first round draft picks in 2007) struck out Harper looking at a 2-2 fastball on the outside corner, Harper glaring at plate umpire CB Bucknor after the call.
Thus, the game moved to the seventh inning with nothing but zeroes on the board. Then Ramos ensured that wouldn't be the case much longer.