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Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Murphy dominated in Nationals' 8-3 win over the Mets

Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Murphy dominated in Nationals' 8-3 win over the Mets

NEW YORK -- Bryce Harper hammered his home run so sweetly, it sailed over the head of Mets right fielder Jay Bruce -- twice, it really did.

"I think that's the hardest ball I've ever hit in my life," Harper said.

Harper and the Washington Nationals battered New York from the start, romping 8-3 Thursday night and reversing a recent slide by the NL East leaders.

Harper lined a solo drive in the first inning that sailed about a dozen rows deep into the seats. The ball ricocheted out of the stands in a hurry and Bruce tried but couldn't catch the rebound, the carom flying far onto the grass.

"It wasn't a moonshot. That was like a Hank Aaron shot," marveled manager Dusty Baker, who played with the one-time home run king.

Harper's 17th home run left the bat at 116.3 mph, his hardest-hit ball since Statcast began tracking in 2015.

"That was a different sound," winning pitcher Gio Gonzalez praised. "When you hear a loud sound like that, you know it's going far."

Daniel Murphy added three more hits against his former team and Michael A. Taylor hit the Nationals' league-leading 100th home run to cap a five-run fifth.

Baker won on his 68th birthday. Also celebrating birthdays -- Harper's dad and Gonzalez's mom.

"First off, happy birthday to Dusty. Have to do your best not to lose on his day," Gonzalez said.

Washington had lost five of six going into this four-game series while the sub-.500 Mets had won five of six.

The banged-up Mets lost more than a game.

A day after pitcher Matt Harvey and second baseman Neil Walker left with injuries that will put both of them on the disabled list, center fielder Juan Lagares broke his left thumb trying to make a diving catch. Earlier in the game, the former Gold Glover threw out Harper at the plate.

The Mets have gotten hurt a lot this season, enough that manager Terry Collins said he wasn't surprised when a trainer told him Lagares had snapped the thumb on his glove hand.

"That's kind of my thought. How many can we possibly continue to have to play through?" Collins said. "But you know what the answer is? As many as pop up. That's how many you've got to play through."

Gonzalez (6-1) gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings, improving to 10-1 at Citi Field. A career .102 hitter coming in, he helped himself with an RBI single.

Robert Gsellman (5-4) was tagged for seven runs and 11 hits in five innings. He had won three straight starts but fell behind when Harper homered.

Wilmer Flores and Rene Rivera homered for the Mets.

DANIEL DOES IT AGAIN

Murphy tripled, singled twice and drove in two runs. He hit safely in all 19 games vs. the Mets last year after they let him go the previous winter, and is now 41-104 (.394) with seven doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 28 RBIs in 26 career games against his former team.

Murphy, a postseason star in the Mets' run into the 2015 World Series, typically plays down the revenge angle, basically saying it's always good to beat a division rival. If there is any motivation, Baker doesn't mind.

"I hope he's fueled the rest of his career," Baker said.

SKIPPER STUFF

Collins is the oldest manager in the manager, but not by much -- he was born less than three weeks before Baker. ... The win made Baker 8-12 on his birthday as a manager.

PITCH `N CATCH

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram, the team's first-round draft pick, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The former Mississippi star exchanged a quick hug with Gsellman and made a solid toss from the down slope of the mound.

COLLEGE BOUND

Baker said son Darren was still headed to play at the University of California, a day after the 18-year-old shortstop was drafted in the 27th round by the Nationals. "It's all good," dad said, "but he's going to school."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: LHP Matt Grace was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse for his fifth stint this season with Washington. RHP Trevor Gott was sent down, a day after he was hit hard while throwing 52 pitches vs. Atlanta.

Mets: Walker (hamstring) was put on the 10-day disabled list and Harvey (stress injury to shoulder) was set to go on the DL on Friday. ... OF Michael Conforto missed his fourth straight start with a stiff back, but came in after Lagares was hurt.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (7-4, 2.36 ERA) leads the NL with 124 strikeouts. He pitched the second of two no-hitters in 2015 at Citi Field, fanning 17 Mets.

Mets: LHP Steven Matz (1-0, 1.29) pitched seven strong innings last weekend at Atlanta to win his season debut after a bout with elbow inflammation.

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

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Bryce Harper powers Nationals past Diamondbacks

PHOENIX -- The newest additions to the Washington bullpen came through when called upon to help deliver a victory to their new team.

Sean Doolittle stranded the potential tying run by escaping a jam for his second save for Washington, and Ryan Madson tossed a scoreless eighth inning as the Nationals held off the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 on Saturday night.

"The game can really speed up on you once you start getting guys on base," said Doolittle, who with Madson arrived in a trade with Oakland earlier in the week. "The crowd and the energy of the stadium can kind of take over and ... you have to be mindful enough to step off the mound, slow the game down a bit, kind of press reset."

Bryce Harper homered and drove in two runs, and starting pitcher Tanner Roark struck out a season-high 11. Roark (8-6) gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings for the NL East-leading Nationals.

"Curveball felt good. Just keep the hitter guessing," Roark said.

Harper hit his 25th home run on a full-count offspeed pitch from Anthony Banda (0-1), who lost in his major league debut.

Chris Iannetta hit a two-out RBI double in the bottom half, but the Nationals opened a 4-1 lead with a three-run sixth.

Harper hit a run-scoring double and scored on Ryan Zimmerman's double, and Anthony Rendon beat out an RBI single that sent Zimmerman home.

"They had a young guy out there that throws the ball really hard, has good command. He's going to be really good in the next couple of years for sure," Harper said of Banda. "Just got him this time and got a few runs up there."

A.J. Pollock tripled in the bottom half and scored on Jake Lamb's groundout, and Arizona reliever Jorge De La Rosa got out of bases-loaded trouble in the seventh when he struck out Harper and Zimmerman.

Doolittle, acquired from Oakland last weekend, walked Lamb leading off the ninth. Iannetta hit a broken-bat grounder to third, and Rendon's throw to second went into right field for an error that put runners on the corners.

Paul Goldschmidt hit a sacrifice fly, Chris Owings flied out and Doolittle struck out Ketel Marte for his second save with the Nationals.

"Madson's been great for us. Doolittle ... he never panics. It was great to see. It's a lot of fun to have a back end like that," Harper said.

Banda allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked none. He was optioned back to Triple-A Reno after the game.

"I felt confident. I threw the ball in the zone and kept attacking hitters," Banda said. "I made a couple of mistakes, Harper and the middle of the lineup."

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Nationals lose to Diamondbacks in dramatic fashion

Nationals lose to Diamondbacks in dramatic fashion

PHOENIX -- Three straight homers off Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer in the first inning had the Arizona Diamondbacks set up for an easy Major League Baseball victory over the NL East leaders.

Instead, they needed Brandon Drury's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 victory Friday night.

The home runs by David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb to start their first at-bat helped stake the Diamondbacks to a 5-0 lead against Scherzer.

"We did a great job getting his pitch count up and also putting runs on him," the Diamondbacks' A.J. Pollock said. "Great getting on him early. We would've loved to have (scrapped) a couple of runs in the middle of the game, but the key point is we won the game and we came through in the end."

The first-inning feat was the first in the majors since Baltimore did it against Texas on May 10, 2012. It was the first time in Nationals history (2005 to present) that an opposing team has hit back-to-back-to-back home runs.

The Diamondbacks last hit three straight homers on Aug. 11, 2010, when they had four in a row at Milwaukee.

It was the most runs allowed by Scherzer in a first inning since July 2, 2011, against San Francisco, when he gave up five.

"I had four pitches today. I was using them. They beat me," Scherzer said. "I just couldn't get the ball exactly where I wanted it. When you do that against this type of ballclub and these types of hitters, they are really good and they make you pay."

Scherzer's five runs allowed tied for the most he's given up in a start this season, and the five innings tied for his shortest outing of the season.

Arizona sent nine batters to the plate in the four-run first and the Diamondbacks made it 5-0 in the second on Lamb's RBI double.

Scherzer had allowed just one home run in 34 2/3 innings over five starts before he surrendered the three home runs on his first 10 pitches. The All-Star right-hander and two-time Cy Young Award winner was tagged for three homers in a game for the first time since May 6, 2016, against the Chicago Cubs, when he allowed four.

"I don't think I have ever seen a game starting off with three homers. Max hadn't seen it, either," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.

Peralta, Pollock and Lamb also each had a double, another historical first for the Diamondbacks.

The Nationals rallied with Daniel Murphy's run-scoring double in the fourth, then added two more runs in the fifth off Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley. A leadoff double for Matt Wieters led to Brian Goodwin's RBI groundout, and Ryan Raburn singled in Wilmer Difo with two outs.

Godley struck out a career high 10 in 5 2/3 innings, and allowed four runs and five hits.

Difo drove in two runs, one to cut the lead to 5-4 in the sixth and the other that tied the game on a groundout to first in the eighth.

The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the ninth on Pollock's triple and intentional walks to Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt by Enny Romero (2-4). After Gregor Blanco flied out to shallow left, Drury bounced a single into right field for Arizona's third win in four games.