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Nats 2, Phillies 1: Harper homers, Scherzer dominates

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Nats 2, Phillies 1: Harper homers, Scherzer dominates

GAME IN NUTSHELL: Max Scherzer and Sean O'Sullivan had squared off twice already this season prior to Friday night, with Scherzer prevailing both times. And in each of those games, the Nationals ace was buoyed by a Bryce Harper homer off O'Sullivan.

So what happened in meeting No. 3 of the season? The exact same thing. Scherzer once again pitched a gem against the Phillies, tossing eight innings of 1-run ball. And Harper once again homered off O'Sullivan, giving him three in three games against the big right-hander.

The Nationals' go-ahead run, though, came in large part due to Scherzer, who led off the sixth with a single to right and then busted it 270 feet around the bases to score on Ian Desmond's RBI double off the center-field fence. The crowd of 35,893 was particularly impressed with that aspect of Scherzer's night.

Drew Storen pitched the ninth, protecting a 1-run lead, securing his 13th save in 14 tries and lowering his ERA to 0.98. And the Nats notched their sixth straight win, their 18th win in 22 games to match a club record and continue a torrid stretch of elite baseball.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Harper's latest home run was yet another jaw-dropper. Not because of how far he hit it, but because of how he hit it. Down 0-2 to O'Sullivan, Harper took a close curveball for a ball, showing the patience that has become his hallmark this season. Then he somehow managed to connect on a high fastball at his shoulders and drive it over the left-field fence, an impressive display of power once again from Harper, who is just on an insane tear at the plate. At that moment, he had 11 homers in a span of 45 at-bats. How crazy is that? Consider that if you took away all his non-homers from that stretch and turned them into outs, he'd still own a .244 batting average. Just nuts.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Just as we've come to expect Harper to homer every night, we've come to expect dominance from Scherzer every fifth night. And Friday night was no exception. The right-hander gave up a couple of well-struck balls to center field in the early innings, with Ryan Howard and Odubel Herrera combining to plate the Phillies' lone run. But he was lights-out after that, working quickly and efficiently to toss eight innings on 110 pitches. In the process, he became only the second pitcher in Nationals history to go at least seven innings in seven straight starts. Only Livan Hernandez has bested that, with eight straight such starts back in 2005.

KEY STAT: Five of Harper's six intentional walks this season have come via the Phillies pitching staff.

UP NEXT: The middle game of this series features Stephen Strasburg (3-4, 5.98) and Cole Hamels (4-3, 3.24) on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. Saturday.

MORE NATIONALS: Roark will return to Nats' rotation with Fister out

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The Met whose 3-run HR buried the Nationals Wednesday night had just taken a 2-hour Uber to the game

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The Met whose 3-run HR buried the Nationals Wednesday night had just taken a 2-hour Uber to the game

The Washington Nationals just can't catch a break, now 11 games under .500 after last night's dismal 6-1 loss to the New York Mets.

This time, the loss came at the hands of usually the most reliable reliever for the Nats, Sean Doolittle, who came into the game during the 8th inning with two runners on and two outs.

Wednesday night, he was not so reliable.

Doolittle failed to get that last out, hitting Carlos Gomez, then Juan Lagares cleared the bases to make it 3-1 on a double.

Then, with two on, Rajai Davis, who had just come up from the minor leagues, stepped up to the plate.

Davis had just taken a two hour Uber ride from Lehigh Valley, PA., arriving during the third inning of the game and getting lost upon arrival when trying to find the clubhouse. Davis was put in to face Doolittle during the eighth as a pinch hitter and his first career at-bat as a Met.

Of course, Davis delivered with a three-run home run to seal the 6-1 win.

A pinch-hitter with his first career at-bat as a Met hitting a three-run homer is a poetic end for the failing Nationals, now with a 6.98 ERA, the worst in Major League Baseball.

The Nats are now in danger of being swept by the Mets, now third in the NL East, with a 12:10 matinee Thursday again at Citi Field.

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Nationals Roundup: Nats in danger of sweep after coughing up late lead to Mets

Nationals Roundup: Nats in danger of sweep after coughing up late lead to Mets

The Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 6-1, Wednesday to drop their record to 19-30.

Consider these news pieces and notes as Washington limps through its four-game series in New York: 

Players Notes:

NATIONALS (19-30): 

'Mad Max' was in full effect Wednesday night, doing what he does. Max Scherzer pitched six scoreless innings of four-hit baseball while issuing two walks and striking out nine Mets. 73 of his 109 pitches were thrown for strikes. His 11-pitch 6th inning put the bullpen in a position for success. But, if you've been watching this team this season, you know what that means. 

Adam Eaton's first base hit of the series came in the form of a first-inning dinger off Jacob deGrom. That's the only run that would come across the plate for Washington Wednesday night. 

For once, it wasn't Sean Doolittle's night. The closer surrendered a bases-clearing double to Juan Lagares in the 8th and the Mets never looked back notching six unanswered runs late. 

METS (23-25): 

Jacob deGrom was once again in elite form going head-to-head against Scherzer. New York's ace threw six innings of two-hit baseball while only allowing one run (Eaton's solo shot) and walking three Nats. 63 of his 103 pitches were thrown for strikes and he struck out eight batters. 

Offensive production didn't come until the 11th hour for New York. The Juan Lagares double and Rajai Davis 3-run home run combined to tally six runs in the 8th leading the Mets to their 23rd win of the year. 

Injuries: 

SP Jeremy Hellickson: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 31

RP Justin Miller: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 31

SP Anibal Sanchez: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 27

OF Andrew Stevenson: back, expected to be out until at least May 24

1B Ryan Zimmerman: foot, expected to be out until at least May 23

RP Koda Glover: elbow, expected to be out until at least May 25

RP Trevor Rosenthal: viral infection, Expected to be out until at least May 21

RP Austen Williams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least Jun 13

Coming Up:

Thursday, 5/23: Nationals @ Mets, 12:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field

Friday, 5/24: Marlins @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

Saturday, 5/25: Marlins @ Nationals, 4:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

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