Game in a nutshell: A good number of the 33,764 who paid to attend this game actually stuck around through a 2 12-hour rain delay and then through the actual game, and were rewarded for their patience with another fine showing from the home club. The Nationals jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a Danny Espinosa homer, a Ryan Zimmerman RBI single and an RBI triple and solo homer by Bryce Harper. That was plenty of run support for Gio Gonzalez, who labored through 5 23 innings but still held the Mets to one run. Craig Stammen, Michael Gonzalez and Tyler Clippard then closed it out to give the Nats another series victory. Coupled with the Braves' loss to the Dodgers, the Nationals now lead the NL East by five games heading into this week's showdown with Atlanta.
Hitting highlight: Maybe the most encouraging development of the weekend: Harper seemed to get his power stroke back. After recording a couple of hits (including a homer) on Friday, the rookie tripled and homered again in today's series finale. The home run was a blast to right-center, ricocheting off the facade of the second deck and was Harper's 12th of the season. The list of players in baseball history to record at least 12 homers in their age 19 season: Tony Conigliaro (24), Mel Ott (18), Ken Griffey Jr. (16), Mickey Mantle (13) and Bryce Harper (12). That's pretty impressive company.
Pitching highlight: Gonzalez has had better outings this season, but not many that required more guts than this one. The lefty gave up at least one hit in all six of his innings and was pitching from behind in the count all afternoon. Yet he made just about every important pitch when he needed to and emerged unscathed. Gonzalez actually had a shutout going into the sixth, only to fall victim to an Ike Davis double, a flyout and an RBI groundout. A four-pitch walk to Kelly Shoppach ended Gonzalez's day at a whopping 110 pitches, but he still departed to a standing ovation. And not without merit. Gio's 16 wins are now a single-season Nationals record, surpassing Livan Hernandez's total from 2005.
Key stat: Ian Desmond is now 0-for-11 since coming off the disabled list.
Up next: Bring on the Braves. The Nationals' lone remaining challenger in the NL East comes to town for a three-game series with major postseason implications. Jordan Zimmermann faces Tim Hudson in a fantastic pitching matchup to start things off at 7:05 p.m. Monday.