- Associated Press - Sunday, September 14, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - If the New York Mets want to win the NL East in the next few years, they’ll need to catch Washington at some point.

They have a long way to go.

Bryce Harper homered, Ian Desmond drove in three runs and the Nationals moved a step closer to their second division title in three seasons Saturday night with a 10-3 victory over Zack Wheeler and the Mets.

“He might be tiring a little bit, but I think it’s really important for him to realize what he has to do to get through to the next start,” New York manager Terry Collins said. “If he’s going to look at 200 innings in the face next year, he’s got to learn how to deal with it. Everybody has a tough night and tonight was his.”

Doug Fister was handed a 6-0 lead and breezed to his fourth win in four career starts against the Mets - all in the past 13 months. One night after their 12-game winning streak at Citi Field was snapped, the Nationals went right back to dominating New York on a dreary night in Queens.

Wilmer Flores hit a two-run homer and Juan Lagares had three hits for the sloppy Mets, who have dropped 17 of their last 20 against Washington. They made three of their four errors on consecutive batters in the sixth - right fielder Curtis Granderson even dropped a fly ball later in the game that turned into a forceout.

New York had won eight of 10 overall.

“When you don’t pitch, the game is going to get ugly,” Collins said.

Wheeler threw 100 pitches in four-plus innings and was charged with six runs on seven hits. He was 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA in his previous 13 starts since June 29.

“I didn’t have my command. Whenever I did throw a strike, something crazy happened,” Wheeler said. “Something was wrong with my mechanics and I couldn’t figure it out.”

Anthony Rendon added to his huge series with four hits as the Nationals outhit New York 15-6 and reduced their magic number to six for clinching the NL East. Denard Span had a two-run homer in the ninth and scored three times.

Desmond got three hits and stole two bases. He also drew a leadoff walk from an ineffective Wheeler (10-10) in the second before Harper launched a high drive down the right-field line that landed in the second deck for his 13th home run of the season.

Harper finished with three hits and Jayson Werth knocked in two runs to give Washington four players with at least 80 RBIs.

“We have a deep lineup,” Desmond said. “It’s a good feeling for us. I’m sure it’s not a very good feeling for the opposing team. There’s a lot of different threats.”

Rendon is 10 for 15 with two homers and five runs in the four-game series that wraps up Sunday. He was answering questions from reporters at his locker when a teammate walked by and bellowed, “What’s it like to wake up in the morning and be great? You should know.”

Working in a steady rain during the middle innings, Fister (14-6) needed only 75 pitches to get through six. He gave up three runs - two earned - in his second consecutive win after losing three straight starts.

The big right-hander has a 1.01 ERA against the Mets, who went 23 2-3 innings without scoring an earned run against him.


Mets: Daniel Murphy was back in the lineup at 3B. He sat out Friday after getting hit in the left wrist Thursday by a pitch from Nationals reliever Matt Thornton. … Matt den Dekker sat out again and was scheduled to be re-examined by a doctor. The outfielder was hit by a pitch on his left hand Tuesday. “That hand is just not getting much better,” Collins said. “He can’t grip the bat yet. He’s having a tough time throwing.” … RHP Vic Black struggled to control several pitches and gave up a run in the eighth. He returned Monday from a herniated disk in his neck, and Collins said Black would be examined Sunday morning because the team has a few concerns. “I feel like some aching soreness and I feel weak. It felt like I was on the gas pedal and there was nothing coming out,” Black said. “My neck feels fine. … I am not real concerned with it; I am just real frustrated about it.”


Collins said rookie RHP Rafael Montero, who earned his first major league win Wednesday against Colorado, will move to the bullpen beginning Sunday. Montero, however, could make another spot start later this season.


Harper has hit 10 of his 55 career homers against the Mets, including four this year.


Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (11-5, 2.93 ERA) starts the series finale against LHP Jonathon Niese (8-10, 3.59). It will be Zimmermann’s 10th career start at Citi Field. Niese has not beaten the Nationals since August 2012.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide