NEW YORK (AP) — The way things look right now, Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals are simply too much for the New York Mets to handle.
Trea Turner hit a leadoff homer and the Nationals backed Strasburg with three long balls Saturday, beating the Mets 7-4 to stay undefeated at Citi Field this season.
Adam Lind added a two-run shot and Jose Lobaton also went deep for the NL East leaders, who can finish a four-game sweep Sunday afternoon. Washington is 6-0 in Queens this year — part of an impressive 24-12 mark on the road — and has won 12 of 16 at the Mets’ home ballpark since the start of last season.
“I think it just shows the makeup of this team that we’re very capable of winning on any given day, even when we’re not firing on all cylinders,” Strasburg said.
Yoenis Cespedes homered and had four hits for third-place New York, which dropped 11 1/2 games out of first.
The banged-up Mets (30-37) expected to challenge Washington at the top of the division, but injuries and poor pitching have taken their toll in a race that already looks lopsided. Miami sits in second place, 11 games behind.
“We’ve got 90 left. We’re going to show up all 90 of them and we’ll keep playing,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “You can’t tuck your tail between your legs and run and hide.
“We’ve got veteran leadership in there that won’t let down,” he added.
The top pick in the 2009 amateur draft, Strasburg squared off with a 34th-round selection in New York starter Seth Lugo.
Working exclusively out of the stretch, as he has since spring training, Strasburg (8-2) rebounded from his worst start of the season. He permitted two runs and six singles — all by Cespedes and Jay Bruce — in 5 1/3 innings. The talented right-hander struck out five and walked two.
“Kind of scuffling out there today. Just kept trying to make pitches. Sometimes they would show up, sometimes they wouldn’t,” Strasburg said. “But you’re going to have games like this. So you’ve just got to do your best to keep it close, and the offense and the bullpen picked me up today.”
Four relievers from a much-maligned ‘pen closed it out, with Enny Romero getting five outs for his second save. The left-hander gave a huge fist pump after Cespedes grounded into a game-ending double play.
“Our bullpen did a great job,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Enny, he threw lights out.”
Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon each had an RBI double for the Nationals, who have won seven of nine meetings with the Mets this season. Washington hit three homers for the second straight game and turned four double plays — one day after spinning three behind ace Max Scherzer.
The Nationals scored once in each of the first four innings against Lugo (1-1), including on a two-out throwing error by third baseman Wilmer Flores.
Turner’s fifth career leadoff homer and third this season, on Lugo’s second pitch, was the third the Mets have allowed in their past five games.
“We’re having trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark,” Collins said.
New York cut it to 6-4 in the eighth on an RBI single by Jose Reyes. With two on, Romero struck out Rene Rivera to end the inning — Rivera fanned all four times up.
Turner scored from first on Rendon’s double in the ninth.
RIGHT AT HOME
Washington won 12 consecutive road games against the Mets from 2013-14 and is 54-28 at Citi Field since the ballpark opened in 2009. … Both of Lobaton’s home runs this season have come at Citi Field. … Strasburg is 6-1 on the road this year. He improved to 7-1 in nine career starts at Citi Field.
Lugo gave up four runs, three earned, over 6 2/3 innings in his second start this season after recovering from elbow inflammation. He was diagnosed with a partially torn ligament late in spring training. The right-hander had won six straight decisions, and the Mets had won his previous eight starts dating to Aug. 25, 2016. “I felt like a couple pitches just got away from me,” Lugo said.
Nationals: RHP Shawn Kelley received treatment for tightness in his neck before the game, Baker said. Kelley did not pitch.
Mets: Cespedes, who returned from a strained hamstring June 10, started his third straight game ahead of a scheduled rest Sunday. The slugger has also dealt with quadriceps and heel issues recently, and his legs were tested several times Saturday following hours of heavy rain in the early afternoon before the game. But he ran well all day, legging out two infield singles, twice going first to third and even galloping a long way for a running catch in deep left field. He hustled into second base on one of Bruce’s three singles and later scored one of his three runs with a feet-first slide on Flores’ line-drive sacrifice fly, barely beating a strong throw from right fielder Bryce Harper.
Nationals: RHP Joe Ross (3-2, 6.39 ERA) pitches the series finale. Washington has scored 85 runs in Ross’ eight starts this season.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (5-3, 4.33 ERA) threw 116 pitches Monday in his second career complete game, beating the Chicago Cubs 6-1 with a five-hitter. He is 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA in nine starts vs. the Nationals and has 22 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings against them this year.
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