NEW YORK (AP) As usual, Daniel Murphy was diplomatic about all the damage he’s done to the New York Mets since they let him leave as a free agent.
Max Scherzer knows that’s just a mirage.
”He wants to beat their brains in. 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,” Scherzer said. ”But he wants to beat them apart. That’s the way this is. That’s just the way this goes.”
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Murphy hit an early grand slam against his former team, Scherzer pitched eight fiery innings and the Washington Nationals topped New York 6-3 on Sunday night for their seventh straight victory .
Ryan Zimmerman added a two-run homer for the Nationals, who completed a three-game sweep of the short-handed Mets in the first series this season between the NL East rivals.
Murphy, booed by the Queens crowd, is batting .386 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 22 games against the Mets since leading them to the 2015 World Series with a record-setting postseason.
”Come here and things are familiar. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it,” Murphy said. ”It’s a good way to end the series.”
Minus slugger Yoenis Cespedes and three other injured regulars, New York (8-11) has lost four in a row and eight of nine to fall 5 1/2 games behind the Nationals, who own the best record in the majors at 13-5. The winning streak is their longest since a seven-game run last April.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Cespedes (left hamstring) told him he’ll be ready to play Tuesday night against Atlanta.
”The concern is getting these guys back. Once we get healthy and get our lineup back in there, I think things will turn around,” Collins said.
Scherzer (3-1) struck out nine and walked one in his latest win over the Mets, a team he has often dominated – especially since signing with Washington in January 2015. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, who fanned 17 in a no-hitter at Citi Field on Oct. 3, 2015, pumped his fist and slapped his glove after setting down the crucial hitters in this one.
”Max was some kind of special tonight for us,” Murphy said.
Koda Glover got three outs for his second major league save, both in the past two days.
Michael Conforto hit his second leadoff homer of the series and had three hits for New York. Neil Walker’s two-run homer pulled the Mets to 4-3 in the third, but that was all Scherzer allowed. He got a double-play grounder after Conforto’s one-out single in the fifth and retired his final 10 batters.
Murphy’s second career slam came in the first off Zack Wheeler (1-2), who had sharp stuff throughout his seven innings of four-hit ball. Zimmerman went deep in the eighth against reliever Josh Smoker to make it 6-3.
Washington improved to 6-0 on a 10-game road trip with its first three-game sweep at Citi Field since August 2014.
”More than anything, you just try not to freak out. That’s the absolute worst thing you can do 20 games into a season,” Walker said. ”Nobody’s freaking out in here.”
Nationals: LF Jayson Werth went 0 for 3 after missing three games with groin spasms.
Mets: SS Asdrubal Cabrera gave the banged-up Mets a scare when he came up gimpy after changing directions quickly to make a diving stop of Trea Turner’s infield single in the first. Cabrera, playing through a sore hamstring, vehemently tried to wave off Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez as they came out of the dugout. Collins and Ramirez checked on Cabrera anyway, but he stayed in the game. … Collins said catcher Travis d’Arnaud (bruised right wrist) was in the original lineup until reporting pain when he tried to throw. He was replaced by Kevin Plawecki and struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
Murphy is hitting .520 (13 for 25) with five extra-base hits and 36 RBIs in bases-loaded situations since 2015.
Scherzer, who allowed his first two homers of the season, gave Washington its 11th consecutive quality start. He is 6-3 with a 1.99 ERA vs. the Mets. … Conforto has three home runs against Scherzer, his most off any pitcher. … Wheeler dropped to 2-7 in nine career starts against Washington.
Nationals: After an overnight flight to Denver, the Nationals open a four-game series in Colorado. With RHP Stephen Strasburg going on the paternity list and RHP Joe Ross pushed back one day to Tuesday, RHP Jacob Turner will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse to start Monday night against Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (1-3, 7.32 ERA).
Mets: Following an off day, the Mets face another NL East nemesis in Atlanta RHP Julio Teheran (1-1, 3.52 ERA) on Tuesday at Citi Field. Teheran is 7-3 with a 2.21 ERA vs. New York after throwing six shutout innings at Citi Field on opening day. Rookie RHP Robert Gsellman (0-1, 5.09) gets the ball against the Braves, who have lost six straight.
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