NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy provided the early offense, and Max Scherzer made it hold up, tossing eight strong innings to lead the Nationals to a 6-3 victory Sunday night at Citi Field to complete a three-game sweep over the Mets.Murphy launched a grand slam in the first inning off
NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy provided the early offense, and Max Scherzer made it hold up, tossing eight strong innings to lead the Nationals to a 6-3 victory Sunday night at Citi Field to complete a three-game sweep over the Mets.
Murphy launched a grand slam in the first inning off Zack Wheeler and Ryan Zimmerman added some insurance with a two-run homer in the eighth, which was more than enough for Scherzer.
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner completed eight innings for the first time this season with nine strikeouts and one walk in a 110-pitch outing.
The Nationals have won seven consecutive games, matching their season high from a year ago. They have started this three-city, 10-game road trip with six wins in a row, guaranteeing themselves a winning road trip.
"You're kind of getting what you needed," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "That's what stands out. You need a homer, you get a homer. You need a double play, you get a double play."
Wheeler settled in after allowing Murphy's homer, completing the next six scoreless innings. He went seven innings for the first time since 2014 with six strikeouts. More >>
Michael Conforto continued his hot start with a solo homer in the first and Neil Walker hit a two-run homer in the third, but it was not enough as the Mets have now dropped eight of their past nine games.
"We're going to be fine," Conforto said. "We have a lot of faith in ourselves. We'll get our horses back soon, and I think we'll be all right."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Grand opening: Murphy's grand slam was the second of his career and another major blow against his former team. The homer came off his bat at 104 mph and traveled a projected 401 feet, according to Statcast™. He is now 34-for-88 in his career against New York, where he spent the first seven years of his career.
"He wants to beat their brains in," Scherzer said. "He won't say anything and he won't say anything to us, it's not like he's in here boasting that he wants to beat the Mets in here to us or anything like that, but he wants to beat them apart. That's the way this is, that's just the way this goes." More >>
Zimmerman continues his hot start: After Bryce Harper kept the eighth inning alive with a two-out single, the Mets decided to leave left-hander Josh Smoker in the game to face Zimmerman, who went on to hammer a two-run homer to center field.
"That's what me in between Harp and Murphy does, it forces them to make a decision," Zimmerman said. "When we can do the right-left thing through the order, it puts them in a tough spot."
It was Zimmerman's sixth home run of the season to continue perhaps the best start of his career. His six homers this month are the highest total in April of his career.
"The Mets have a good team. They're going to be heard from as soon as they get everybody back. But in the meantime, nobody gives us any sympathy in this league and you got to make hay when you can." -- Baker on the Mets
"They have a real good team. They have a very good team. They're very deep, and they have power out of the bullpen. They've got a really good club. That's why you have to make pitches against them." -- Collins on the Nationals
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Trea Turner has grounded into three double plays this season in 27 at-bats. He had just one in the first 347 at bats of his career.
Nationals: The Nationals head to the final leg in this three-city, 10-game road trip for the start of a four-game series with the Rockies Monday at 8:40 p.m. ET at Coors Field. Right-hander Jacob Turner will be called up to make the start while Stephen Strasburg is placed on paternity leave.
Mets: The Mets have Monday off before beginning a three-game series with the Braves Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field. Robert Gsellman (0-1, 5.09 ERA), who allowed three runs in seven innings last Wednesday against the Phillies, will be on the mound for the Mets. Julio Teheran (1-1, 3.52 ERA), who has allowed just one run on 10 hits over 22 innings in his last three starts at Citi Field, starts for the Braves.
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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
Danny Knobler is a contributor for MLB.com based in New York.