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Nationals 13, Mets 2

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Adam LaRoche homered to begin a four-run second inning Sunday afternoon for the Washington Nationals, Kurt Suzuki had a homer and three RBIs and Gio Gonzalez struck out seven in seven shutout innings as the Nationals beat the New York Mets 13-2 in front of 33,366 at Citi Field.

The top eight batters in the Nationals lineup all had at least one hit and one RBI. Denard Span finished with three hits while Jayson Werth had two hits, including a solo homer and four runs scored.

By winning the rubber game of the three-game series, the Nationals (41-40) moved over .500 at the season's halfway point and ruined the home debut of Zack Wheeler, the Mets' highly touted right-handed pitcher.

The Nationals piled on in the eighth with six runs off Brandon Lyon and two more in the ninth off Anthony Recker, the Mets' backup catcher who gave up a two-run homer to Ian Desmond.

Gonzalez wriggled out of trouble in the first, when he allowed a hit and a walk. In the seventh he stranded runners at the corners, but he was almost perfect in between. Gonzalez retired 17 of 18 batters between the first and sixth and ended up allowing three hits and two walks.

John Buck hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth for the Mets. Josh Satin had two hits while Daniel Murphy singled and had a stolen base in the first inning.

Wheeler took the loss after allowing five runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five in 4 2/3 innings.

Plenty of anticipation, as well as the second-largest crowd of the year at Citi Field, accompanied the New York debut for Wheeler, who opened his career by going 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in two road starts against the Braves and White Sox.

Wheeler received a warm ovation as he exited the dugout and headed to the mound for the first inning. After his name was announced, the Foreigner song "Feels Like The First Time" began accompanying Wheeler's warm-up tosses.

The buzz continued building as Wheeler struck out the first two batters he faced, Span and Anthony Renden, before he got Ryan Zimmerman to ground out to complete a perfect 13-pitch inning.

But the dream debut turned sour in a hurry in the second, when LaRoche homered on Wheeler's first pitch. Werth walked on four pitches and scored on Desmond's long double. Desmond advanced to third on a fly out and scored on a single by Suzuki, who scored on Span's two-out double.

Wheeler allowed Werth's homer with two outs in the third and was pulled after walking LaRoche to put runners at the corners in the fifth.

NOTES: Nationals right-handed pitcher Dan Haren, who was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday (retroactive to June 23) with right shoulder tendinitis, threw a bullpen session Sunday morning. ... Fellow right-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler, who had a stiff back after Friday night's start, threw on Sunday as well and said he felt better. Detwiler is still penciled in to start for the Nationals on Wednesday against the Brewers. ... Mets left-handed pitcher Tim Byrdak, who is recovering from left shoulder surgery, made his fourth minor-league rehab appearance Saturday, when he allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning with Single-A St. Lucie. ... Recker became the first Mets position player to pitch since ex-backup catcher Rob Johnson threw a scoreless inning in a 14-5 loss to the Blue Jays on May 18, 2012. ... The Mets' largest crowd this season was an Opening Day sellout of 41,053 on April 1.
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