NEW YORK -- The Nationals tightened their hammerlock on the National League East with a 7-4 triumph over the Mets on Saturday, remaining unbeaten at Citi Field this season and clinching another series victory there.
Trea Turner hit a leadoff home run off Mets righty Seth Lugo, Jose Lobaton added a solo shot, and Stephen Strasburg delivered 5 1/3 effective innings, holding the Mets to two runs. Initially viewing this series as a chance to climb back into contention, New York has not led at any point over its first three games.
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"I was kind of scuffling out there today," Strasburg said. "Just kept trying to make pitches, and sometimes it would show up, sometimes it wouldn't. But you're gonna have games like this. You just gotta keep it close, and the offense and the bullpen picked me up today."
Though the Mets created plenty of opportunities, three double plays on offense and multiple defensive misplays undermined them throughout the afternoon. The Nationals took advantage, successfully leaning on their much-maligned bullpen for the game's final 11 outs. Adam Lind gave them some additional cushion with a two-run homer in the eighth.
"It is frustrating," Bruce said. "They're obviously the team right in front of us, and we have a lot of work to do. We have an uphill climb. We had a chance to chip into that a bit, and we haven't. But you can't go back. You can't think about what could have been."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Leading off with a bang: Turner turned on Lugo's second pitch of the game, a 91-mph fastball that he redirected into the left-center-field seats. Scoring early hasn't been a problem this series for the Nationals, who have led in all but two innings of the first three games. It was the third leadoff home run Mets starters have allowed over the past five games.
"I felt like a couple pitches just got away from me," Lugo said. "Everything else was in a good location with good movement. ... For me, I'm just trying to keep the score where we have a chance to come back. The last few innings we had a chance, so that's all I can do."
"Our bullpen did a great job because they got 11 outs," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "That's a lot of outs for your bullpen. [We] wanted [Strasburg] to get the victory."
"The way he played today, that woke some guys up, because you know he's close to being in that lineup every day. When he plays like that, we're going to be dangerous."
-- Mets manager Terry Collins, on Cespedes
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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy finished 2-for-4 with one RBI, extending his streak of reaching base against his old club to 28 straight games. Murphy is a career .396 hitter with nine doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 29 RBIs against the Mets.
Nationals: Washington will start right-hander Joe Ross in the finale of the four-game series Sunday. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m. ET, however, and Ross has a 13.09 ERA in three daytime starts this season.
Mets: The Mets hope to salvage a game in Sunday's series finale behind Jacob deGrom, who pitched their only complete game of the season in his last start against the Cubs. The Mets will play without Cespedes, who is scheduled for a day of rest.
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