Game in a nutshell: After a marathon game last night, the Nationals hoped to get both a productive start out of Edwin Jackson and some early run support to make manager Davey Johnson's job a little easier in the later innings. They got both. Slumping Adam LaRoche started things off with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first. Michael Morse added two more opposite-field hits, the second of them driving in his first run of the season. And Jackson did his part, overcoming his own throwing error to churn out seven quality innings. And unlike last night, the back end of the Nationals' bullpen took care of business and closed this one out without the need for any antacid. Tyler Clippard's fifth save since taking over pseudo-closer duties ensured the Nats' second straight win over the Mets and extended their lead in the NL East to two games.
Hitting highlight: Throughout his three-week slump (during which he went 6-for-55 and saw his batting average drop nearly 70 points) LaRoche insisted he wouldn't panic. He'd been through much longer slumps before, and he felt he'd learned how best to overcome them: By resisting the urge to try to change something. It's only one game, but whatever he did tonight certainly worked. With his three-run homer in the first, LaRoche gave the Nationals an early lead. He later added a single in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Put it all together, and the veteran first baseman had his best game in quite some time ... and perhaps started off another prolonged hot streak at the plate.
Pitching highlight: Jackson's stuff was dominant right from the outset, as evidenced by his two strikeouts to open the game. And he only surrendered three hits over seven innings. The right-hander still could have used some refinement, though. Two of the Mets' three runs scored as a direct result of self-inflicted wounds: A leadoff walk issued to New York's No. 8 hitter in the third, and then a two-base error on an errant pickoff throw in the fourth. All things considered, though, Jackson turned in a quality start and gave the Nationals exactly what they needed: seven strong innings after having used up their entire bullpen last night.
Key stat: With one swing in the bottom of the first inning (and then one more swing in the bottom of the seventh), LaRoche recorded twice as many RBI (4) as he had notched in his previous nine games combined (2).
Up next: The two teams will have a quick turnaround for Thursday's series finale. Chien-Ming Wang faces knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at 1:05 p.m. at Nationals Park.