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Nats' bats come alive against Harvey in win over Mets

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Nats' bats come alive against Harvey in win over Mets

FINAL: Nationals 7, Mets 2

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: In Game 3 of their crazy week facing some of the best pitching the NL has to offer, the Nationals stared down the Dark Knight of Gotham and for the first time in a long time lived to tell about it.

The Nats got to Matt Harvey for two runs in the first, then three more in the third, pouncing on the Mets ace to beat him for the first time since his rookie season in 2012. Yunel Escobar's RBI single brought home the night's first run, then his heads-up baserunning move (getting into a rundown and buying enough time for Bryce Harper to score) brought home another. Clint Robinson's 2-run double in the third added to the onslaught and handed Gio Gonzalez a 5-0 lead.

Gonzalez labored at times and could only make it through six innings, allowing two runs, while throwing 107 pitches. But the Nationals bullpen clamped down and didn't let the Mets get back in it. Matt Thornton retired the side, Casey Janssen tossed another scoreless eighth and — after Ian Desmond tagged a much-needed, 2-run homer for insurance — Drew Storen finished it off in a non-save situation.

And so after losing games to Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke over the weekend, the Nationals were able to take down an ace this time. And because of that, they have opened up a 3-game lead over the Mets in the NL East.

MORE NATIONALS: LATEST ON NATIONALS INJURIES

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: If opponents are going to pitch around Harper, the guys hitting behind him are going to have to deliver big hits. And then did Monday night. Escobar, hitting cleanup to offer some Bryce protection, followed Harper's 1st-inning walk with an RBI single to left to get the Nats on the board. Two innings later, after Harper again walked to leave two men on base, Robinson roped a double to deep center field, bringing home two more runs. That kind of production from the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in the lineup is critical for this team, especially with so many regulars still on the DL.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Nine days ago, Janssen stood before his locker in Baltimore and spoke emotionally about how he hadn't felt like he had contributed enough to his new team and how he intended to prove to the Nationals he deserved to be their primary setup man. Since then, he has tossed four consecutive scoreless eighth innings, retiring 12-of-13 batters, striking out six. There's still a long way to go, and he still has a lot to prove, but Janssen has accepted this challenge and sure looks determined to prove his worth to this team.

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Take your pick, because there were four brilliant plays made in the field in this game. Escobar made a nifty, backhanded stab of John Mayberry Jr.'s hard smash to third base to save two runs from scoring in the first inning. Michael Taylor ran a near-perfect route (98 percent efficiency, according to MLB's Statcast) to rob Eric Campbell of a 2-run double in the fifth. Harper made a tough, sliding catch of Wilmer Flores' sinking liner in the eighth, and Jose Lobaton followed with a sprawling catch of Mayberry's popup, falling over the railing near the third-base dugout. This might well have been the Nationals' best defensive game of the year, and it came at a great time.

KEY STAT: Matt Harvey gave up four total runs in the first 40 innings of his career against the Nationals. Then he gave up five runs in the first three innings of Monday night's game.

UP NEXT: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday when Joe Ross (2-1, 2.66) returns from Class AAA Syracuse to face reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom (9-6, 2.14).

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.