Nationals nip Mets on Harper's two blasts

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NEW YORK -- Bryce Harper wasn't interested in self-promotion, even after the fourth multi-home run game of his career helped lead the Washington Nationals to a 7-6 win over the New York Mets Saturday afternoon at Citi Field.

His manager, though, had no problem piling on the superlatives.

"Harper was amazing today," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "He crushed a couple of balls. What a day he had. That last one he hit against (Mets reliever Josh) Edgin was sky high and still got out of here."

Harper, who went 3-for-3 with a walk, broke a 6-all tie by crushing Edgin's first pitch over the wall in right to lead off the eighth inning for his seventh home run of the year. The ball hit the Dunkin' Donuts sign over the bullpen.

"Edgin is good out there, he's 94-95 (mph) and has a pretty good hook," Harper said. "I think you have to get him early because when you get him late, you're kind of in trouble."

Harper also had a two-run homer in the third inning to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead, but starter Gio Gonzalez, who was solid through three innings, gave up five earned runs -- all with two outs -- in the fourth inning.

"There's things you can't explain," said Gonzalez, who entered the game with a 0.90 ERA in three career starts at Citi Field. "I was sitting there contemplating what happened. You go three innings, you felt like you can go out and attack the strike zone, you're dominating and all of a sudden you get two outs. You can't answer that."

Gonzalez didn't have to because the Nationals hitters did that for him. In addition to Harper, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche went yard for the Nationals.

"We had a lead, got down and came back," Johnson said. "That's the sign of a good ball club."

LaRoche's home run, a three-run shot in the fifth, was particularly big, according to Harper.

"Everybody was really excited about that," Harper said. "Rochie hitting that three-run bomb really swung the momentum."

Like Gonzalez, Mets starter Jeremy Hefner struggled, giving up three earned runs on four hits -- two home runs and two doubles -- while striking out two with three walks.

"That's definitely an issue right now and something I'm trying to resolve and I'm close," said Hefner, who also gave up two home runs in his last start at Colorado. "Overall it was a step in the right direction for me but that's an issue and I need to correct that right now."

After falling behind 3-0 after three innings, the Mets rallied, scoring five times in the fourth inning. Collin Cowgill and Ike Turner each had two-run singles to left and Daniel Murphy added a run-scoring single to right for the Mets, who scored all of their runs with two outs.

But New York had no answer for Harper, who also had a double in the fifth inning.

"He beats you in so many ways, he can hit a homer but he can also steal second, steal third if he gets a single," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's a dangerous player. As I said last year when I saw him for the first time, when this guy is done playing, he's going to set a lot of records."

NOTES: Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained hamstring after receiving an MRI Saturday afternoon, Johnson announced after the game. "The doctors say he needs to rest it for 10 days and he's already had a couple. We're not going to take a chance and bring him up early," Johnson said. The Nats will call up Anthony Rendon from Class AA Harrisburg, which was welcome news to Harper. "I'm excited. That's awesome. He's a special talent and it's exciting to have a guy like that. It's going to be fun to watch him play." ... Second baseman Danny Espinosa returned to the lineup after missing four games with swelling in his right hand and wrist. ... Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada missed Saturday's game for precautionary reasons after rolling his ankle Friday night. Justin Turner replaced Tejada, who pinch-hit for Hefner in the fourth. ... Mets pitching prospect Zach Wheeler has struggled with his command for Class AAA Las Vegas, issuing six walks Friday. He threw 108 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. "We know with Zach's history, he doesn't walk a lot of guys, so when I saw the six base on balls, there's got to be a reason for it," Collins said. "So I'll check with (Las Vegas manager) Wally (Backman) later."