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Washington at New York

Scoreboard
Washington (58-39) «020100200570
N.Y. Mets (47-51)010000010242

Strasburg's 11 K's lead Nats to sweep

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Stephen Strasburg gave a sneaky grin and a confident "yeah" when asked whether he was being more aggressive on the mound. He knew what the question was in reference to, and he appeared to have been waiting five days to answer it.

After the righty's previous start, manager Davey Johnson said, "He really doesn't know who he is at times." Strasburg knew who he was Wednesday all right:

Dominant.

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The 24-year-old ace struck out 11 in seven innings, Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa hit back-to-back home runs and the Washington Nationals completed a sweep of the free-falling New York Mets with a 5-2 victory.

"Once the lights are on and you're facing another team, you want to go out there to make your stuff really dirty," Strasburg said. "It's something where I think when I take a step back and relax and let it happen instead of forcing the issue it helps out."

Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer for a second straight day, and Espinosa doubled and scored on one of the Mets' two errors in the Nationals' fifth win in a row. The team with the NL's best record (58-39) has won seven of 10.

Johnson said Strasburg "doesn't trust his stuff" after he gave up four runs in the sixth inning of his prior start -- the game in which the Braves rallied in the rain from a 9-0 deficit to beat the Nationals 11-10 in 11 innings. Strasburg was in command this time.

Strasburg (11-4) struck out five in a row and gave up four hits in matching his career best for innings, done seven times.

"That's him, that's the way he should pitch. He was very pitch efficient from the get-go. He went right after guys," Johnson said. "He's still learning how to pitch in this league. ... He's still a work in progress."

Ike Davis hit a home run for New York in the finale of an 0-6 homestand.

"Since they kicked me out of town, I like coming in for the sweep," Johnson said of being fired by the Mets in May 1990.

The Mets' 1-11 slide after the All-Star break is approaching their record for futility to start the second half. The only team worse in club history was its first. The 1962 Mets won just one of their first 15 games and set a record for losses with a 40-120 record.

"We're going to get through it. You will see a different team in the next 10 days, the next two weeks," manager Terry Collins said. "We're through making excuses."

After the game, the Mets called up catcher Rob Johnson from Triple-A Buffalo and sent down catcher Mike Nickeas. Johnson was Matt Harvey's batterymate in Buffalo, and the team's top prospect is set to make his major league debut Thursday in Arizona.

These Mets went into the All-Star break 46-40 and optimistic they would compete for one of two NL wild-card spots. But injuries to ace Johan Santana and Dillon Gee and an offense that has stalled has New York fading fast. The Mets have lost 12 games in a span of 13 for first time since 2004.

Facing Strasburg didn't help the slump.

Other than allowing Davis' blistering line drive into the right field stands on the first pitch of the second inning and Daniel Murphy's single in the next at-bat, Strasburg allowed only Josh Thole's ground-rule double in the fifth and Jordany Valdespin's single in the sixth.

Strasburg reached double digits in strikeouts for the fourth time this season and seventh of his young career, striking out David Wright three times. On the last K, a frustrated Wright tossed all his equipment.

Wright grounded out with runners on second and third against reliever Drew Storen to end the eighth. The Mets had scored a run on Valdespin's grounder after walking the bases loaded.

"Losing is one thing," Wright said. "the way that we're going about it right now is unacceptable."

Tyler Clippard, the Nationals' fifth reliever, pitched a perfect ninth for his 18 save in 20 chances since taking over the closer role in May.

Strasburg reached 97 mph on the scoreboard radar, and had at least one strikeout in each inning but the second. He fanned five in a row beginning with Valdespin to start the third.

His command was "perfect," catcher Sandy Leon said. "Today was perfect."

The big right-hander has 25 K's in 18 innings against the Mets in his career.

Starting for Santana, Jeremy Hefner (1-4) labored through six innings, but gave the Mets a chance by working out of several jams. He gave up six hits and three runs -- two earned -- in his fourth big league start. Hefner struck out seven and walked two.

Heffner put runners on in each inning but the fifth. Morse led off the second with an opposite field drive into the lower deck in right. Espinosa then pulled one halfway up the overhanging upper deck in right field to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

Davis quickly got a run back in the bottom half with his 16th home run.

Espinosa doubled and scored in the fourth when he broke for home on Leon's soft grounder to Davis, who fielded the ball on the grass in front of first base. Davis' throw was on the mark but cacther Josh Thole could not hold onto the throw to tag the sliding Espinosa. Thole was given an error and the Nationals led 3-1.

La Roche hit a long drive to right field in the seventh off Tim Byrdak an out after Bryce Harper walked for a 5-1 lead.

Notes

  • Mets closer Frank Francisco (knee) allowed one run and three hits in two-thirds of an inning during a rehabilitation appearance with Double-A Binghamton on Wednesday.
  • Nationals OF Jayson Werth (broken wrist) played five innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Syracuse. He went 0 for 3.
  • Washington is 9-3 against New York this season.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Stephen Strasburg dominates the Mets in seven innings, saddling them with losses in 11 of their past 12 games. (Getty Images)
Stephen Strasburg dominates the Mets in seven innings, saddling them with losses in 11 of their past 12 games. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Washington

D. Espinosa
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
Washington

S. Strasburg
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 1
BB 0
K 11
 
Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Stephen Lombardozzi, 2B5010002 .261
Bryce Harper, RF4110100 .268
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B5000014 .273
Adam LaRoche, 1B4112032 .258
Michael Morse, LF4111000 .295
Danny Espinosa, SS4221010 .255
Roger Bernadina, CF3010110 .295
Sandy Leon, C2000200 .278
Stephen Strasburg, P3000024 .323
   a- Corey Brown, PH1000001 .000
    Henry Rodriguez, P0000000 .000
    Craig Stammen, P0000000 .000
    Sean Burnett, P0000000 .000
    Drew Storen, P0000000 .000
    Tyler Clippard, P0000000 .000
Totals3557448  
a-grounded out for Strasburg in the 8th
Batting
2B - Bryce Harper (16, Hefner), Danny Espinosa (26, Hefner)
HR - Adam LaRoche (18, Byrdak), Michael Morse (7, Hefner), Danny Espinosa (9, Hefner)
RBI - Adam LaRoche 2 (59), Michael Morse (26), Danny Espinosa (32)
2-OUT RBI - Adam LaRoche 2 (24)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Lombardozzi-Espinosa-LaRoche
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Stephen Strasburg (W,11-4) 74110111 2.76
Henry Rodriguez0011200 5.19
Craig Stammen (H,8) 0.1000100 1.99
Sean Burnett (H,22) 0.1000000 2.13
Drew Storen (H,2) 0.1000000 10.80
Tyler Clippard (S,18) 1000010 2.98
Pitches-Strikes - Stephen Strasburg 94-63, Henry Rodriguez 11-3, Craig Stammen 8-4, Sean Burnett 1-1, Drew Storen 4-2, Tyler Clippard 16-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Stephen Strasburg 5-4, Sean Burnett 1-0, Drew Storen 1-0, Tyler Clippard 1-1
Batters Faced - Stephen Strasburg 24, Henry Rodriguez 2, Craig Stammen 2, Sean Burnett 1, Drew Storen 1, Tyler Clippard 3
New York Mets
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ruben Tejada, SS4000023 .310
Jordany Valdespin, LF-RF4011010 .292
David Wright, 3B4000033 .340
Ike Davis, 1B4111010 .209
Daniel Murphy, 2B4010000 .305
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, RF3000021 .256
    Elvin Ramirez, P0000000 .000
   a- Justin Turner, PH1000000 .278
Josh Thole, C2110100 .276
Andres Torres, CF2000111 .216
Jeremy Hefner, P1000010 .250
   b- Ronny Cedeno, PH1000010 .263
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .000
    Jon Rauch, P0000000 .000
    Scott Hairston, LF0000100 .250
Totals30242312  
a-grounded out for Ramirez in the 9th
b-struck out for Hefner in the 6th
Batting
2B - Josh Thole (10, Strasburg)
HR - Ike Davis (16, Strasburg)
RBI - Jordany Valdespin (22), Ike Davis (56)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
E - Daniel Murphy (11, Misplayed grounder), Josh Thole (5, Missed catch of throw)
New York Mets
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jeremy Hefner (L,1-4) 6632272 5.40
Tim Byrdak 0.2122101 4.82
Jon Rauch 0.1000000 3.60
Elvin Ramirez 2000110 6.30
Pitches-Strikes - Jeremy Hefner 107-66, Tim Byrdak 16-8, Jon Rauch 5-3, Elvin Ramirez 24-16
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeremy Hefner 7-5, Elvin Ramirez 4-1
Batters Faced - Jeremy Hefner 27, Tim Byrdak 4, Jon Rauch 1, Elvin Ramirez 7
Game Information
Attendance - 35517
Game Time - 2:53
Temperature - 80
Umpires - Home - Jim Wolf, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Al Porter, Third Base - David Rackley