- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - After making a pair of errors in a loss on opening day, Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond called it “embarrassing.”

He compared himself to a Little Leaguer.

He told reporters he felt like he was repeating things he’d said after defensive mistakes in April after April during recent seasons.

Well, he was at it again Thursday, misplaying a potential double-play grounder into yet another error - that makes three in three games this season - that led to three unearned runs off Stephen Strasburg during Washington’s 6-2 loss to Matt Harvey and the New York Mets.

“The object is to field the ball that’s rolling to you. I wasn’t able to convert,” Desmond said. “I’m all for owning up when I make a mistake.”

These sorts of early problems are nothing new for Desmond, who finished April with eight errors in 2014, seven in 2013, and seven in 2011.

This is a guy who compiled a 59-game errorless streak in 2013.

“As a whole, he’s a pretty darn good player and we’re happy to have him on our club,” manager Matt Williams said after watching Harvey (1-0) strike out nine batters in six scoreless innings during his first appearance since Tommy John surgery.

Strasburg (0-1) allowed nine singles and six runs - three earned - in 5 2-3 innings.

The Mets batted around in a four-run third, when David Wright’s grounder took a hop and went off Desmond’s wrist. To that point in the series, New York had scored eight runs, and six were unearned - all directly related to errors by Desmond.

The reigning NL East champion Nationals, meanwhile, scored a total of six runs while losing two of three games to New York.

The Mets went 15-41 against Washington the past three seasons.

“A great series win,” said Wright, whose two-run single in the sixth chased Strasburg, “coming into D.C., against a team that we struggled against the last couple of years.”

With the temperature at 47 degrees and gray clouds overhead, Harvey faced a lineup missing three players on the disabled list (Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, Denard Span).

Harvey was rarin’ to go in his return, right down to the knobs of his bats labeled with his nickname in all caps: DARK KNIGHT.

A little more than two hours before throwing a pitch that mattered for the first time in nearly 20 months, the right-hander pierced the silence of the visitors’ clubhouse at Nationals Park with the strains of Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle” via a portable stereo.

Boy, was he back.

“I don’t know if I could draw it up any better,” the 26-year-old Harvey said.

He hadn’t appeared in a regular-season game since Aug. 24, 2013; the ligament-replacement operation on his right elbow came that October.

“It’s been long,” he said.

For stretches against Washington, it was as if Harvey never left. He powered fastballs and mixed in sharp breaking balls in the low 80s with what Williams called “feel.”

“I’ve said it a million times: He’s going to be Cy Young one day, and everybody knows that,” said Bryce Harper, who struck out three times against Harvey, each time whiffing on high heat.

Desmond’s appraisal: “Pretty much the same old stuff.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: With closer Jenrry Mejia (elbow) on the 15-day DL, Collins used RHP Jeurys Familia in a non-save situation in the ninth because “he’s got to get used to being out there.”

Nationals: 3B Rendon (sprained left knee) has started working on side-to-side movement. … CF Span (core muscle surgery) and RHP Casey Janssen (right rotator cuff), were scheduled to return to Florida on Thursday for rehab work.

UP NEXT

Mets: Season-opening road trip continues Friday at Atlanta, where New York LHP Jonathan Niese will start against Braves LHP Eric Stults.

Nationals: The Nationals open a series at Philadelphia on Friday, when LHP Gio Gonzalez will try to extend an unusual streak: He homered in his first game each of the last two seasons.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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