NEW YORK (AP) — Bryce Harper hit a startling, broken-bat homer early, then grounded a key single during a six-run surge in the eighth inning that sent the Washington Nationals past the New York Mets 8-6 Monday night.
The Nationals rallied against five pitchers in their big burst, winning for just the fourth time in 13 games. The Mets had been off to the best start in franchise history behind the top bullpen in the majors before collapsing.
Trailing 6-1, Washington combined five hits, three walks and a hit batter to take the lead.
Harper’s two-run single off Jerry Blevins made it 6-3. Wilmer Difo tied it with a two-out, two-run single off Jeurys Familia, and Michael A. Taylor drew a bases-loaded walk from the Mets closer for the go-ahead run.
Howie Kendrick added a solo homer in the ninth.
Harper’s major league-leading eighth home run was a show of shear power and strength. His bat broke into two pieces, but the ball still flew an estimated 406 feet to right-center field.
Harper connected for a solo drive in the first inning off Jacob deGrom. The bat shattered just above his hands, and the barrel helicoptered into the high, protective netting behind home plate on the first base side.
The five-time All-Star trotted most of the way to first holding the few inches of the handle that remained. On his way back to the dugout, Harper playfully pulled up his sleeve to show his biceps.
DeGrom struck out 12 in 7 1/3 innings, the longest outing by a Mets pitcher this season. He was cruising when he left with two on, one out and a five-run lead. He also drove in a run with a safety squeeze.
A.J. Cole (1-1) got the win despite giving up Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-run homer in the seventh that made it 6-1. Ryan Madson got his second save.
AJ Ramos (0-1) took the loss.
Nationals starter Jeremy Hellickson gave up two runs in 4 2/3 innings of his Nationals debut. Signed to a minor league contract late in spring training, he was added to the roster before the game.
Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon (bruised left big toe) is still sore after fouling a ball off his foot Friday. … 2B Daniel Murphy (knee surgery) arrived in Florida and will begin workouts Tuesday at the spring training complex.
Mets: OF Yoenis Cespedes, who played in the Mets’ first 14 games, didn’t start. The slugger was hitting just .190, striking out 26 times in 58 at-bats. Manager Mickey Callaway says Cespedes’ timing at the plate is slightly off, and felt a break might help. Cespedes flied out as a pinch hitter. … OF Jay Bruce (plantar fasciitis) didn’t start for the second straight game. He grounded out as a pinch hitter. He hopes to be in the lineup Tuesday.
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 2.20 ERA) is 10-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 15 career starts at Citi Field. He’s kidded that he likes the Latin food in the clubhouse, the planes that fly overhead and the ballpark’s features, but says there’s no real secret to his success at the Mets’ home.
Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-0, 1.29) pitched seven sharp innings at Miami in his season debut, retiring the last 16 batters he faced. He is 2-7 lifetime vs. Washington — tagged by the Nats in his final two starts in spring training, he got sent to the minors to begin the season.
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