Harper, Nats roll after Giolito's abbreviated debut
By Anthony DiComo and Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON -- Tuesday's game between the Nationals and Mets endured two rain delays, but it didn't stop the Nationals from blanking their division rival, 5-0, at Nationals Park. The Nationals are five games ahead of the Mets in the National League East.
Nationals right-hander Lucas Giolito -- baseball's No. 1 prospect -- made his Major League debut. Before the rain halted his outing, Giolito tossed four shutout innings, allowing one hit and striking out one. He didn't last long enough to pick up the win, however.
"He was very good," manager Dusty Baker said about Giolito. "We were hoping that the rain would subside and it didn't. He showed good control. He got out of whack a little there, but found it back. He had a good fastball that we knew and he threw some outstanding breaking balls and a few changeups."
The Nationals took the lead while Giolito was on the mound. With right-hander Matt Harvey on the rubber, Wilson Ramos scored on a triple by Anthony Rendon to take a 1-0 lead. The rain also stopped Harvey from going deep in the game. He lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed one run on four hits.
After Harvey left the game, the Nationals took advantage of the situation, thanks to All-Star candidates, Ramos, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.
Harper hit a two-run homer -- his 16th of the season -- off left-hander Jerry Blevins in the fifth. In the seventh, Hansel Robles didn't want to face Murphy, and who could blame him? Murphy is leading the Majors in hitting, so he was walked in intentionally to face Ramos, who doubled to deep center to drive in two runs.
"It's frustrating," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But it's part of the game and part of the things you've got to battle through. It seems like we've been down this path a few times, and we'll get through it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Perez gets out of the jam: The Mets had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth, when manager Dusty Baker decided to take Yusmeiro Petit out of the game in favor of Oliver Perez, who was able to get out of the jam. Perez struck out James Loney and retired Wilmer Flores on a fly ball to center. Perez ended up getting his second victory of the season.
Up-and-down Knight: Harvey gave up four hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings, departing after the rain delay, but made enough pitches to limit the damage against him to one run. That came on Rendon's RBI triple in the second. It was an uneven but nonetheless encouraging outing for Harvey, who continued to flash consistent mid-90s velocity.
"I'm not really looking at it as stepping stones anymore," said Harvey, whose ERA has fallen from 6.08 to 4.55 over his last six starts. "It's a long season. There are battles throughout."
Ramos stays hot: Ramos went 2-for-4 and raised his batting average to .343 -- six points lower than Murphy. Ramos' biggest hit the game came in the seventh when he doubled off Robles, scoring Murphy and Harper.
"It's nice to see Big Wilson continue to do what he is doing," Baker said.
"I'm scratching [my head] a little bit. But we've got to make sure these guys stay upbeat." -- Collins, on the Mets' floundering offense
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In his last four games, Rendon is 7-for-15 with four RBIs and four runs scored.
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
Unable to loosen up his stiff right calf after the rain delay, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson departed at that point. Granderson said the calf issue has been bothering him since Saturday, and could force him out of Wednesday's series finale. More >
The Mets also endured a scary moment in the seventh, when Robles crumpled to the ground after a Ryan Zimmerman comebacker struck him in the leg. But after several moments, Robles walked off under his own power and was not seriously injured.
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: With originally scheduled starter Steven Matz pushed back a day to nurse a bone spur in his elbow, the Mets will turn to right-hander Logan Verrett for his fifth spot start of the season in a 7:05 p.m. ET start. Though Verrett is not completely stretched out, the Mets could use as lengthy a start as possible from him after leaning on their bullpen for 4 1/3 innings in Tuesday's game.
Nationals: Since he joined the Nationals at the start of last season, Max Scherzer has posted a 2.00 ERA in five starts against the Mets, including an outing on May 17 this season when he allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts.