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Nationals 4-1 over Mets to sweep three-game set, win 11th straight in Citi Field

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The Washington Nationals got two-run home runs from Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper and a strong start from Stephen Strasburg as they won their 11th straight game against the New York Mets in Citi Field. 4-1 final for the three-game sweep...

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Strasburg Appreciation Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: New York Mets' right-hander Dillon Gee gave up a one-out walk to Washington Nationals' second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera in the opening frame of tonight's game, and one-out later surrendered a two-run home run on an 0-2 fastball to Adam LaRoche, whose 17th HR of the 2014 campaign gave Nats' right-hander Stephen Strasburg a 2-0 lead to work with when he took the mound in Citi Field.

Gee walked Ian Desmond in front of Bryce Harper in the top of the fourth and paid for that free pass too when Harper crrr-ushed a center-cut 88 mph 1-1 fastball, sending a two-run blast out toward the Shea Bridge in right field in the Mets' home. 4-0 Nationals on Harper's sixth.

The Mets pushed an unearned run across on Strasburg in the bottom of the fourth inning when Daniel Murphy singled on a grounder up the middle and took second when Ian Desmond made a rangy play but bounced a throw by first. Murphy stole second when Anthony Rendon failed to handle a throw from Wilson Ramos, then scored on a sac fly to center by Lucas Duda that made it 4-1 Nationals.

The unearned run was the only one the Mets scored in seven innings against Strasburg. 4-1 Nats final.

4. Road Stras: Washington Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg's last start on the road took place in Atlanta's Turner Field last weekend, and it did not go well for the 26-year-old right-hander.

Over five innings of work on the hill, the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick surrendered seven hits, four of them home runs, two walks and seven runs total in what ended up a 7-6 loss to the Braves.

"I just didn't execute pitches the way I needed to," Strasburg explained succinctly after the loss.

"Just not executing pitches. That's the bottom line. Feels good out of the hand, just not hitting the spots well enough."

Asked what he needed to do to get the results he wanted, Strasburg said he wasn't sure there was anything he could do differently.

"I don't really know how to work on it," he admitted. "I mean, some days I'm hitting the spot and some days I'm a couple inches up. So, just got to roll with it, try to miss down instead of miss up."

In an MLB Network Radio interview this afternoon, Strasburg's teammate, Denard Span, who has watched the starter work from center field for the last two seasons, was asked what he thought the righty needed to do to become the sort of dominant, top-of-the-rotation pitcher everyone agrees he should be?

"I think everybody in this clubhouse, on our team, believes in him. We know that he's a good talent and he's going to be fine." -Denard Span on Stephen Strasburg on MLB Network Radio

After being sure to qualify his remarks by noting that he's not a pitching coach, "... by any means," Span said it was all about being consistent.

"I think this game is all about consistency really," Span said. "I mean, there's no question he has the talent. There's no question he works hard. I watch him work hard every day. Whenever I'm in the weight room, he's in there sweating his butt off, in the video room, trying to get better, so the effort is there, it's just about putting it together, that's all. And coming to the field every day trying to learn and get better.

"I think every player in the major leagues goes through their period where they're trying to learn, and trying to find themselves as a player. I think everybody in this clubhouse, on our team, believes in him. We know that he's a good talent and he's going to be fine."

The loss in Atlanta left Strasburg (1-8) away from D.C. after 12 road starts this season, with a 5.25 ERA (vs a 2.41 ERA at home), a 3.99 FIP (vs 2.17) and a .285/.341/.487 line against in 70 ⅓ IP away from the nation's capital so far in 2014 (vs a .233/.272/.340 line against in 86 IP in Nationals Park).

Tonight's start was Strasburg's second of the year against the Mets, who he faced on Opening Day in Citi Field, giving up five hits, two walks and four runs in six innings pitched, while striking out 10 in a comeback win in which he received no decision.

That outing left him (2-1) in five career starts against the Nats' NL East rivals from NY, with a 2.70 ERA, 10 walks (3.00 BB/9) and 41 Ks (12.30 K/9) in 30 IP over which Mets' hitters have put up a combined .185/.258/.324 line against him.

In Citi Field, where he made four of his five starts against New York, Strasburg had a 2.52 ERA, seven walks (2.52 BB/9), 36 Ks (12.96 K/9) and a .180/.245/.337 line against in 25 IP before taking the mound in the series finale of the this week's three-game set.

1st: Curtis Granderson battled for seven pitches before grounding out to second to start the Mets' first. An 0-2 curve got Daniel Murphy swinging for out no.2. David Wright stepped in with two down and singled up the middle on a 95 mph first-pitch fastball. Lucas Duda grounded back to the mound to end a scoreless 15-pitch frame.

2nd: Travis d'Arnaud popped out to Adam LaRoche in foul territory off first to start the second. Matt den Dekker worked the count full and K'd swinging through a 96 mph knee-high heater. Strasburg handled Juan Lagares' swinging bunt himself, and threw to first to end a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 frame which left Strasburg at 25 total.

3rd: Wilmer Flores lined out to right on a 96 mph 2-1 fastball. Dillon Gee K'd swinging through a 96 mph 0-2 heater. Curtis Granderson grounded weakly to first to end another quick inning. 11-pitch frame, 36 overall after three scoreless.

4th: Ian Desmond showed off his range, but bounced a throw by first on a grounder up the middle by Daniel Murphy. The Mets' second baseman took second when the ball got by Adam LaRoche. David Wright stepped in with a runner in scoring position and K'd swinging at a 96 mph 2-2 fastball. K no.4 for Strasburg. With Lucas Duda up, Murphy stole third. Duda worked the count full and lined out to deep center for the second out of the inning and a sacrifice fly. Travis d'Arnaud's groundout to second ended a 17-pitch inning that left Strasburg at 53 overall after four. 4-1 Nationals.

5th: Matt den Dekker grounded out to short on the first pitch of the Mets' fifth. Juan Lagares took a 3-2 curve for a called strike three and Strasburg's 5th K. Wilmer Flores grounded out to third to end another quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. 63 pitches overall for Strasburg.

6th: Eric Young, Jr. hit for Dillon Gee and doubled by third to start the sixth, just beating Bryce Harper's throw in to the bag. Curtis Granderson walked to put two on with no one out. Daniel Murphy rolled over a 1-2 curve and grounded into a 4-6-3 DP. David Wright fell behind 0-2 quickly and K'd swinging at a wicked bender to end a 21-pitch frame at 84 pitches.

7th: Lucas Duda lined out to center again to start the Mets' seventh. Travis d'Arnaud walked with one down, taking the second free pass of the night from Strasburg. Matt den Dekker K'd looking at a backdoor 0-2 curve. Juan Lagares K'd swinging through a 95 mph 1-2 heater. 101 pitches overall for Strasburg, 8 Ks.

Stephen Strasburg's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 101 P, 66 S, 8/2 GO/FO.

3. Golly Gee: New York Mets' right-hander Dillon Gee took the mound tonight winless in his last five starts, going (0-3) in those second-half outings which followed a win on July 9th in his first start back following stint on the DL for the 28-year-old Mets' right-hander, who suffered a strained right lat in mid-May which kept him out of the rotation until just before the Break.

The Mets turned to Gee hoping to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Washington Nationals, against whom he'd done well in his career.

In his one start opposite the Nats this season, the '07 21st Round pick out of the University of Texas at Arlington gave up four hits, two walks and four earned runs in 6 ⅔ IP back in April.

That outing, in which he received no decision, was the 13th of his career against the Nationals.

In those starts, Gee was (7-3) with a 3.23 ERA, 24 walks (2.58 BB/9) and 61 Ks (6.56 K/9) in 83 ⅔ IP, over which he held Washington's hitters to a combined .236/.299/.421 line.

After posting a 6.85 ERA and a .244/.316/.500 line against in his first four starts after the Break, Gee was solid against the the Philadelphia Phillies last time out, throwing seven innings in Citizens Bank Park in which he gave up three hits, three walks and one earned run in a 2-1 win in which he received no decision.

Looking to build on that outing, Gee took the mound tonight in Citi Field and gave up a two-out, two-run opposite field home run by Adam LaRoche in the first. LaRoche's 17th of 2014 came on an 0-2 fastball from Gee, who walked Asdrubal Cabrera with one down to compound the damage. 19-pitch frame for Gee in the first. 2-0 Nationals lead after a half inning.

Gee gave up a one-out walk to Michael Taylor in the second, but completed a scoreless 17-pitch frame that left him at 36 overall after two. A quick, 13-pitch, 1-2-3 third left him at 49 pitches.

Ian Desmond walked to start the fourth and Bryce Harper followed with a two-run blast that sailed out toward the Shea Bridge in right field. 4-0 Nationals on Harper's 6th. Gee held the Nationals to the two runs and completed a 24-pitch frame at 73 pitches overall.

Gee needed nine pitches to retire the Nationals in order in the fifth. Ian Desmond singled to start the sixth, but was stranded at third three outs later as Gee completed an 11-pitch frame at 93 pitches overall.

Dillon Gee's Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 93 P, 56 S, 8/5 GO/FO.

2. SW _ _ P!: The NL East's first place Washington Nationals started tonight's series finale 9-2 against the New York Mets through 11 games this season with a 10-game win streak going in Flushing, Queens, NY's Citi Field, where the Nats had also won 24 of the last 28 games between the NL East rivals. They were also in the midst of a four-game win-streak against the Mets going into the 12th game between the teams this season.

The Nationals jumped out to 4-0 lead early on two-run home runs by Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper and cruised to a 4-1 win, their fifth straight against the Mets, their 11th straight in Citi Field and their 10th in 12 games against New York this season.

1. The Wrap-Up: Josh Edgin took the mound for the Mets in the seventh and issued a two-out walk to Asdrubal Cabrera, a single to left by Anthony Rendon and a two-out, base-loading walk to Adam LaRoche before he was replaced on the mound by Carlos Torres, who struck Ian Desmond out to end the threat.

Carlos Torres came back out for the eighth and threw a scoreless frame.

Tyler Clippard took the mound in the Mets' half of the eighth inning and retired the Mets in order in a 10-pitch frame.

Jenrry Mejia

"Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano came on looking for save no. 28 of 2014. Daniel Murphy hit a one-hopper to second for out no.1. ONE! David Wright battled for eight pitches before popping out to Ian Desmond. TWO!! Lucas Duda got to a full count and grounded out to second to end it.

Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son! 4-1 final.

Nationals now 66-53