NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals didn't need Stephen Strasburg to subdue the stumbling New York Mets.
With Strasburg shut down earlier than expected, after his final start of the season was initially scheduled for Wednesday night, John Lannan filled in and four relievers finished off a 2-0 win for Washington.
Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond homered for the Nationals, who swept the three-game series at Citi Field. The win moved Washington eight games ahead of the Atlanta Braves, pending their result later Wednesday night, and took a little edge off the weekend series in Atlanta.
The reeling Mets were swept for the second straight series at home and were shut out for the second time on the home stand. They have managed just nine runs in those six games.
Matt Harvey (3-5) again showed promise, striking out 10 batters, but got the latest hard-luck loss for the Mets. He allowed just one run on five hits in five innings.
Robert Carson did an impressive escape job to keep Harvey from allowing more, entering with the bases loaded in the sixth and retiring the next three batters without allowing a run.
With Strasburg done for the season with the Nationals' much-debated plan to protect his surgically repaired right arm, Lannan got the nod. Washington had originally planned for this to be Strasburg's last start, but decided the extra attention was causing a distraction to him and told him after his last start he was done for the year.
Lannan (3-0) pitched well in his first turn in Strasburg's spot, as he didn't give up a run in 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits while walking one and striking out two.
Sean Burnett, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 2 due to nerve irritation in his left elbow, put two runners on in the ninth. But, with closer Tyler Clippard having thrown 19 pitches the previous night and having pitched four of the last five games, Drew Storen came on to get the final out.
Burnett allowed Lucas Duda's second single of the night to start the inning and a two-out single to Andres Torres. But Storen retired pinch hitter Daniel Murphy on a fly ball to end the game.
The Nationals escaped their own bases-loaded jam in the sixth, when reliever Christian Garcia entered with two on and two outs, then hit Kelly Shoppach with a pitch. But Garcia got pinch hitter Ike Davis to fly out to center to end the threat.
New York again wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh. Reliever Justin Hampson got Adam LaRoche to ground into an inning-ending double play. But Desmond hit his 23rd homer of the season, off of Jon Rauch, to start the eighth and give Washington a 2-0 lead.
The Mets lost second baseman Ronny Cedeno in the sixth, as he left with tightness in his right hamstring and was replaced by Jordany Valdespin.
The Nationals took a 1-0 lead on Zimmerman's home run to center to start the fourth.
It was the only blip early against Harvey, who struck out the first four batters.
Lannan was less flashy, but got better results against the Mets' listless offense, shutting New York out through five. The Mets put two on in the second with back-to-back singles to start the inning. But Lannan retired the bottom of the order on a fly to left and a pair of fielder's choices.
NOTES: Lucas Duda started at first base Wednesday instead of his usual left field, as Mets manager Terry Collins said he will find more ways to get him in the lineup down the stretch. Collins said he wants to see Duda "on a daily basis" so he can evaluate him for next season, after Duda struggled this year and was eventually demoted before rejoining the team. ... Murphy was scratched from Wednesday's starting lineup due to a sore lower back, but he entered the game as a pinch hitter in the ninth ... The Mets re-signed with Class A Savannah and the city will remain affiliated with the organization through 2014, the Mets announced. ... Nationals slumping left fielder Michael Morse was out of the lineup Wednesday with a bruised bone and torn sheath in his left wrist, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said in his pre-game press briefing. The injuries were revealed by an MRI, while X-rays were negative. He will take batting practice before Friday's game at Atlanta and be evaluated again at that point.