Nats on verge of home-field in NLDS after win

September 23rd, 2017

NEW YORK -- The Nationals set a franchise record for most home runs in a single season, clubbing three homers en route to a 4-3 victory in 10 innings over the Mets on Saturday night at Citi Field. hit the go-ahead homer in the 10th, his latest blow against his former team.

Washington now has hit 206 home runs as a team this season, and in 37 games against the Mets during the past two seasons, Murphy has nine homers and 35 RBIs. Following Saturday's victory, the Nationals can clinch home-field advantage in the National League Division Series with a win Sunday or a Cubs loss to the Brewers.

"To get to October feeling good, [we need] starting pitching and bullpen throwing the ball well, which they did tonight," Murphy said. "And offense grinding out at-bats, which I felt we did tonight ... Fortunately, we were able to strike there in the 10th."

Regular-season standings

Washington pulled off the win despite an abbreviated outing, relatively speaking, from starter , who left the game after five innings and 83 pitches as part of a plan to limit his workload heading into the postseason. He gave up seven hits and walked a batter, but struck out six and retired his final seven batters.

"Yeah, I felt good enough to continue, but I don't make those calls," Strasburg said. "I'm just trying to think big-picture, but at the same time these games matter down the stretch. So [I] just have to keep working hard to try and keep things going."

The Mets started the game with the brief but encouraging return of right-hander , who was pitching in his first game since April 30. He allowed a hit, but a timely double play allowed him to get through a scoreless inning in five pitches.

"It was great to see him out there," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Glad he's OK, glad things went well. We're gonna see how he feels [Sunday] and the next day and have him get himself ready, see if we can run him out there one more time."

New York then handed the ball to right-hander Matt Harvey, and his struggles continued. Harvey surrendered three runs on a pair of homers -- a two-run homer from and a solo homer from Matt Wieters -- in four innings, with two walks and two strikeouts. Harvey owns a 12.27 ERA since returning from the disabled list.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Callahan strikes out a pair: Washington had a chance to break a tie game in the eighth inning, threatening with runners at the corners and one out in the eighth inning when the Mets turned to right-hander Jamie Callahan. But Callahan struck out both Michael A. Taylor and to strand the go-ahead run.

Three in the third: The Mets threatened with runners on early in the game against Strasburg before they broke through with a three-run third inning. drove home a run with a ground-rule double, followed by 's two-run single through the middle of the infield to give New York a three-run advantage. Plawecki is batting .300 with four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in 20 games since his recall from the Minors.

"They jumped us," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "But the fact that we came back and kept grinding is what I liked most."

QUOTABLE

"I had a bad thought that I was going to be running out [from the bullpen] and Noah was going to come running out of the dugout, and I'd embarrass myself some more." -- Harvey, while laughing, on not knowing if he would pitch the second inning after Syndergaard threw just five pitches in the first

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Murphy's .699 slugging percentage in 37 games against his former team is the second-highest of any player in history with at least 100 plate appearances versus the Mets, trailing only Mark McGwire (.742). Third on the list is Stan Musial (.684).

"He's been struggling a little," Baker said. "It's always good to come back to where you had success."

UPON FURTHER REVIEW

Following a leadoff walk in the third inning, Harvey made a sharp pickoff move to first base in an attempt to cut down Stevenson. The Mets challenged umpire Chris Segal's ruling that Stevenson was safe on the play, but the call stood following a replay review.

WHAT'S NEXT

Nationals: The Nationals close out their season series vs. the Mets at 1:10 p.m. ET Sunday at Citi Field with ace Max Scherzer on the hill. In three starts against New York this year, Scherzer is 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 22 innings.

Mets: Initially scheduled to pitch Friday before he fell ill with a stomach virus, will instead start Sunday's series finale against the Nationals. If he completes 4 2/3 innings, deGrom will reach 200 for the first time in his career.

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