Strasburg cruises while Nats pummel Harvey in 9-1 victory

NEW YORK - Slump? What slump? Who said the Nationals couldn't score runs in bunches? All they needed was to face Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey on consecutive nights.

With a swift and emphatic flurry of hard-hit balls off the once-feared, suddenly-ineffective Harvey, the Nationals cruised to a 9-1 victory over the Mets tonight, following up last's lopsided win with another one to capture the first of six regular season series with their chief division rivals.

A Nats lineup that looked tepid during a three-game losing streak only a few days ago turned into an imposing force in the final two games of this series. After scoring seven runs off Colon and New York's bullpen last night, they knocked Harvey out in the third inning tonight with nine runs credited to his name.

Most of the damage came during a seven-run third inning that left the crowd of 39,494 at Citi Field booing their formerly beloved Dark Knight of Gotham, but the fuse was lit in the top of the first by Daniel Murphy. Murphy crushed a two-run homer, a deep drive just to the right of center field that left the large New York crowd murmuring and continuing to wonder about the state of their young ace's right arm.

Down 0-2 in the count with a man on first, Murphy forcefully drove a curveball from Harvey deep to center for his sixth homer of the season. And it was merely the latest impressive at-bat from the former Mets second baseman, who has been a godsend for the Nationals since signing with them last winter.

Murphy is now hitting .420 (21-for-50) when behind in the count, a staggering level of production given the circumstances. For comparison's sake, the major league average for all batters when behind in the count this year is .200.

Murphy's homer brought home Jayson Werth, who walked earlier in the inning to extend his streak of plate appearances reaching base to six. Bryce Harper struck out in between the two, falling to 0-for-21 with eight strikeouts in his career against Harvey.

Wilson Ramos bat white close.pngHarper finally got on the board during the seven-run rally, roping a single to right that registered 110 mph off the bat. That was just one of a bunch of scorched hits off Harvey in that inning, including Anthony Rendon's two-run double, Wilson Ramos' two-run single and Ben Revere's two-run triple.

By the time Mets manager Terry Collins emerged from the dugout asking for the ball, Harvey had seen his ERA skyrocket to 5.77, the questions about his future only growing louder.

At the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Stephen Strasburg, who put together yet another dominant outing to continue his dominant start to the season. Strasburg's lone blemish tonight came in the bottom of the second, when the Mets strung together three singles to plate one run. Otherwise, he was on cruise control, striking out 10 while walking only one over six innings.

Strasburg improved to 7-0 with a 2.80 ERA for the season. His team, meanwhile, has now won each of his last 13 starts, establishing a new franchise record (breaking the old mark established by Jordan Zimmermann from Aug. 2, 2014-April 8, 2015).

Go even farther back, to last summer when he returned from a neck injury, and Strasburg is 15-2 with a 2.20 ERA, 185 strikeouts and only 28 walks over his last 22 starts.

With the series victory, the Nationals improve to 25-16. They currently lead the Phillies by one game in the National League East, and the Mets by 2 1/2 games.

Nats praise dominant Strasburg, defend struggling ...
Lineup knocks out Harvey in third inning (Nats win...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to