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Nationals 7-2 over Mets: Nats get to Matt Harvey early and hold on

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The Washington Nationals scored five runs early on New York Mets' right-hander Matt Harvey before he settled in and the Nats held on for a 7-2 win in the series opener in the nation's capital. Solid start by Gio Gonzalez, high pitch count though...

Rob Carr/Getty Images

5. Gio vs NYM: Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez took the mound tonight in the nation's capital with a streak of 15 ⅔ scoreless innings pitched against his opponent, the New York Mets, going back to the final inning and two-thirds he threw against the Nats' NL East rivals in a 4-3 loss in Citi Field last September 12th.

Gonzalez finished out his 2014 campaign with seven scoreless against the Mets in Nationals Park, then held them scoreless for seven more in a May 2nd start in New York.

That win over the Mets earlier this season left the 29-year-old lefty (8-4) in 14 career starts against New York, over which he's put up a 2.87 ERA, 31 walks (3.30 BB/9), 87 Ks (9.25 K/9) and a .196/.271/.297 line against in 84 ⅔ IP.

"More of the same. Lots of curveballs, didn't really have the feel for it as much so he went to the changeup a little more, but he got us into the seventh..." -Matt Williams on Gio Gonzalez vs the O's last time out

Gonzalez went into the All-Star Break on a bit of a roll, posting a 0.90 ERA (2 ER in 20 IP) over his last three starts, in which he walked five, K'd 15 and held opposing hitters to a combined .214/.267/.314 line.

He held the Baltimore Orioles to one run on six hits in six innings in his first-half finale, receiving no decision in what ended up a 3-2 loss for Washington.

"More of the same," Nationals' manager Matt Williams said.

"Lots of curveballs, didn't really have the feel for it as much so he went to the changeup a little more, but he got us into the seventh, walked the first guy so we had to go get [Aaron] Barrett, but pretty good."

Gonzalez looked to continue both his scoreless inning streak against the Mets and a three-start unbeaten streak overall this season going when he started the series opener in D.C. tonight.

His scoreless-inning streak was in jeopardy early after Gonzalez issued a one-out walk to Ruben Tejada which was followed by a double to right by Daniel Murphy that put runners on second and third. Wilmer Flores stepped in next and sent a swinging bunt back to the mound for out no.2 though, and John Mayberry, Jr. sent a grounder to third for out no.3. 23-pitch frame for Gonzalez.

Juan Lagares reached on an infield single that bounced off Yunel Escobar's glove with one down in the second, and stole second base in the next at bat, but Mets' catcher Anthony Recker K'd swinging on an 0-2 changeup and Matt Harvey K'd swinging through a fastball up high.15-pitch second for Gonzalez, 38 total after two.

The Mets went down in order in a quick, 15-pitch third that left Gonzalez at 53 pitches.

Eric Campbell walked with two down in the top of the fourth inning and took third base on a double to right field by Juan Lagares.

Anthony Recker stepped in with two on and two out and walked to load them up for Matt Harvey, who hit a two-run single to right on an 0-2 fastball. 5-2 Nationals after a 31-pitch frame that left him at 84 total after four.

Ruben Tejada singled to left to start the fifth, and Wilmer Flores sent a hanging 0-2 curve to right one out later. John Mayberry, Jr. sent a fly to right field for out no.2, however, and Eric Campbell lined out to deep right-center where Michael Taylor made a, sprinting, leaping catch. 11-pitch frame, 95 total.

Gonzalez's 12-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left him at 107 pitches.

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 107 P, 66 S, 9/2 GO/FO.

4. The Dark Knight of Gotham: New York Mets' right-hander Matt Harvey, 26, took the mound in the nation's capital tonight with a streak of sixteen-straight scoreless innings going against the Washington Nationals, which stretched back to his final three innings of work in a July 26, 2013 start in Nationals Park.

The Nats scored just one unearned run with Harvey on the mound in that game.

The last earned run they scored against the Mets' 2010 1st Round pick came a month earlier, in the fifth inning of a June 28, 2013 start, and he held them to that one run in seven innings, giving himself a streak of 23-straight innings pitched against the Nats since he last allowed them to score an earned run.

Harvey, of course, missed the 2014 campaign after Tommy John surgery, but in his first outing back in the majors on April 9th, he shut the Nationals out over six innings of work in Nationals Park in which he allowed just four hits, then followed up on that start with seven scoreless against the Nationals in Citi Field a month later.

"I thought he was really good," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after Harvey's first start of the year against the Nats.

"The ability to throw the breaking ball for strikes, offspeed, changeups. Generally, you would imagine the first time back out there, in a real game, anyway, [he] would have some adrenaline throwing, but he had feel, good fastball between 94-97 and throwing it where he wanted to. So, that's why he's one of the premier pitchers in our game."

Harvey finished the first half of the 2015 campaign (8-6) with a 3.07 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 26 walks (2.10 BB/9) and 109 Ks in 111 ⅓ innings pitched, over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .227/.281/.381 line.

His third start of the season against the Nationals began with a one-out bunt single by Danny Espinosa and a walk by Bryce Harper that put two on with one out in front of Yunel Escobar, who singled to left to bring Espinosa in and make it 1-0 early.

Both Harper and Escobar tried to advance on a pitch in the dirt that bounced off Mets' catcher Anthony Recker, but Escobar got caught in a rundown between first and second, and Harper scored from third when the Mets' infielders seemingly forgot about him. 2-0 after a 17-pitch first by Harvey.

Matt den Dekker took a two-out walk in the Nationals' second, and Gio Gonzalez lined one to third that bounced off Daniel Murphy's glove. E:5, 2 on, 2 out, but Michael Taylor grounded into a force at third to end the frame. 23-pitch second, 40 total after two.

Danny Espinosa lined a single to right to start the home-half of the third. Harper walked for the second time tonight in the next at bat. Espinosa took third on a fly to right by Yunel Escobar, and both runners scored when Clint Robinson doubled to center on an 0-1 curve in the next at bat. 4-0 Nationals. Daniel Murphy threw one away on a grounder to third by Ian Desmond, allowing Robinson to score and make it 5-0. 64 pitches for Harvey after a 24-pitch third, 64 total.

After driving in two runs to get the Mets on the board, Harvey retired the side in order in a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth that left him at 73 pitches overall. A seven-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left him at 80 pitches total. Another quick, 1-2-3 frame gave the Mets' starter eleven-straight outs. Nine-pitch frame, 89 total.

Bryce Harper K'd swinging to end Harvey's fourth straight, 1-2-3 frame. 14-straight retired. 10-pitch frame, 99 total.

Matt Harvey's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 99 P, 62 S, 10/4 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: The Mets came into this series winning of eight of their last twelve, with wins in sixth of their last ten road games, though they were just 16-30 on the year away from Citi Field.

• Matt Harvey took the mound tonight with a 0.68 ERA (3 ER in 40 IP) vs the Nationals in his career.

• NY played an 18-inning game against the Cardinals in St. Louis on Sunday in which they stranded 25 batters, tying a franchise record, but they won, 3-1, after dropping the first two of three in Busch Stadium.

• The Mets came to D.C. in the midst of a power surge with 12 HRs in the last seven games and nine homers in the last five.

• Going into the game, Harvey had held the Nationals to no more than one run and no more than five hits in his six career starts against the Mets' NL East rivals. That streak ended in the first.

• The Nationals are 19-7 against the Mets since the start of the 2014 campaign after going 15-4 against New York last season and 4-3 against them so far this summer.

• The Nats started the three-game set with the Mets (10-4) in their last fourteen games in Nationals Park, though their 9-2 record in the last eleven before they dropped 2 of 3 to L.A. looked better.

Wilson Ramos started the series with a .340/.360/.577 career line, 13 doubles and eight home runs in 44 games against the Mets in his career. Jose Lobaton got the start tonight, however.

• Bryce Harper started the series 0 for 12 with a walk and six Ks in 13 plate appearances against Harvey in their respective careers. He walked in his first trip to the plate tonight, and scored to make it 2-0.

2. Turning Point(s): Bryce Harper, as noted above, had reached base just once in 13 career PAs against Mets' right-hander Matt Harvey before tonight, but he took a one-out walk in the first tonight to move Danny Espinosa into scoring position after Espinosa bunted his way on, and set Yunel Escobar up with an RBI opportunity the Nationals' third baseman cashed in with a grounder through the left side. 1-0 when Espinosa scored. Harper took third on a pitch in the dirt in the next at bat, and scored when Escobar tried to advance as well and got caught in a rundown that allowed Harper to sneak in, 2-0.

• Another single by Espinosa and another walk by Harper in the third set Clint Robinson up with an RBI opportunity the first baseman cashed in with a two-run double to center on a hanging curve from Harvey. 4-0. Robinson scored on a throwing error in the next at bat, 5-0.

• Gio Gonzalez walked Anthony Recker intentionally after falling behind 0-2 in the top of the fourth, loading the bases up and daring Mets' skipper Terry Collins to lift Harvey after three innings with the Mets down, 5-0, but Collins stuck with his starter, who fell behind 0-2 before hitting a weak fly to short right to drive in two runs. 5-2 Nats after four.

1. The Wrap-Up: Matt Thornton took over for Gio Gonzalez on the mound in the seventh and threw a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.

Casey Janssen came on for the Nationals in the top of the eighth inning and threw a scoreless 14-pitch frame. Still 5-2 Nats.

Alex Torres gave up a one-out single by Clint Robinson in the eighth and a two-run home run to right-center by Ian Desmond that made it 7-2.

Drew Storen came on in the non-save situation and gave up back-to-back one-out hits by Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson, but both runners were stranded two outs later. Ballgame.

Nationals now 50-41