WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have owned the Mets during their head-to-head matchups this season, thwarting each attempt New York has made to close the gap between them in the division. Washington's latest pummeling came during Tuesday's 11-4 victory during the annual Fourth of July game in the nation's capital.
Three Nationals regulars -- Matt Wieters, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman -- all received off-days Tuesday, and yet again the Nationals scored double-digit runs for the 14th time this season, the most in the National League. At the center of this offensive barrage -- as he finds himself so often, especially against these Mets -- was second baseman Daniel Murphy, who collected four hits and five RBIs against his former team. Bryce Harper also contributed at the plate, as he reached base four times with three hits, a walk and a pair of RBIs.
"It seemed like we were able to keep sustained pressure," Murphy said. "And each inning, you're able to get traffic out there, you just give yourself more opportunities to get that big hit. Then we just started stacking quality at-bats on top of each other."
Mets right-hander Seth Lugo retired the first five batters he faced, but ultimately surrendered six runs on 10 hits and two walks, although he did not receive much help from his defense. The offense, on the other hand, showed some pop, with homers from Jose Reyes, Rene Rivera and Jay Bruce, which went for naught.
And despite being a bit uneven at times, giving up eight hits and three walks, Nats righty Joe Ross turned in a solid start with seven innings of two-run ball. He has settled in during his past four starts, thanks in part to becoming more comfortable with his changeup, lasting at least six innings and allowing two earned runs or fewer in each of them.
"Obviously I've had more success with it the last couple starts, so I feel more comfortable," Ross said. "But just overall with my stuff, I feel like I've performed overall better. And the changeup has definitely played a big part of it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Four-run outburst: The game had been deadlocked at 2 when the Nationals took advantage of some shaky defense from the Mets to put up four runs in the fifth. Wilmer Difo began the inning with a single, before Harper hit a single into right field that went under the glove of Bruce. Difo scored from first as Harper raced around the bases to third. The next better, Murphy, hit the ball sharply toward third base and off the glove of Wilmer Flores for another run-scoring hit. More >
Ryan Raburn broke the game open with a two-run double during the five-hit, four-run inning, all of which were charged to Lugo.
"I was trying to make it happen a little too much," Bruce said, noting that he was hoping to throw Difo out at third. "Obviously, it went terribly wrong. It cost us a couple of runs."
Murphy does it again: After three straight one-out walks in the sixth inning, the last person the Mets wanted to see at the plate was Murphy, who continues to punish his former team seemingly every opportunity that arises. Once again, Murphy delivered, lacing a two-run single to right field to jumpstart the three-run inning that put the game out of reach.
Murphy has reached base in 30 of the 31 games he has played against the Mets since joining the Nationals at the start of the 2016 season, with 34 RBIs.
"Murph's very steady in his demeanor and personality. That helps," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "I'm sure he gets some satisfaction, which we all do, when you're playing your former team. I still do when I'm managing against my former teams. I'm glad that Murph responded today after a day off."
"I saw a lot of it in person for five years," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's an outstanding hitter."
"In general, it's frustrating when you don't win ballgames. But when you know you're climbing an uphill battle and these guys are at the top, you want to try to make up as much ground as you can. We haven't been able to do that." -- Bruce, on losing two straight to the first-place Nationals.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo, their first-round Draft pick in 2011, set a career high with three hits. It was Nimmo's first multihit game of the season, and the third of his career.
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
The Mets' inclusion of Curtis Granderson in their original starting lineup may have been more optimistic than realistic. Though Granderson hit a pinch-hit, game-tying homer in the ninth inning Monday, he reported back to Nationals Park half a day later still feeling lingering soreness in his right hip. As a result, the Mets scratched him just prior to gametime, giving T.J. Rivera his first career start in left. Rivera later departed with cramping in both legs, but, like Granderson, hopes to be fine to play Wednesday.
"All the signs are showing that everything is improving," Granderson said.
Mets: Seeking to avoid a series sweep, the Mets will turn on Wednesday to Jacob deGrom, who is 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA over his past four starts. The Mets are also hopeful that both Granderson (hip) and Yoenis Cespedes (right hamstring cramp) will be ready to return to the starting lineup in the 7:05 p.m. ET game at Nationals Park.
Nationals: This will be the Nats' final meeting with their NL East rivals until late August, when they wrap up this three-game set with the Mets. Right-hander Tanner Roark hopes to get on the right track after a disastrous June, in which he posted an 8.31 ERA in six starts.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.