Friday, September 12, 2014
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LaRoche homer helps Nationals defeat Mets

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[September 12, 2014]  NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals love playing the New York Mets at Citi Field. First baseman Adam LaRoche loves playing the Mets anywhere.

LaRoche hit his 28th career homer against the Mets, a two-run shot in the first inning that gave the Nationals a lead they wouldn't relinquish in a 6-2 victory.

The Nationals -- who improved to 83-62 and reduced their magic number for winning the National League East to nine -- have won 13 straight games at Citi Field dating back to June 30, 2012. It is the longest winning streak in Queens by a Mets opponent in the Mets' 53-season history.

"We don't really notice it at all," said Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark, who improved to 13-10 after allowing two runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out one over 6 2/3 innings. "Another game we've got to go out there and win. That's what the mentality is."

LaRoche, meanwhile, can't help but notice his numbers against the Mets. He has more homers and RBIs (83) against the Mets than any other opponent. In 14 games versus the Mets this year, LaRoche is hitting .361 with five homers and 14 RBIs.

"I don't know what it is," LaRoche said. "This year, I know I've been pretty comfortable against them, for whatever reason. There's certain pitchers, as hitters, you match up well, just timing-wise. You're just kind of in rhythm."

LaRoche has been in rhythm against everyone in September. His two-hit effort Thursday -- he also had an RBI single in the third inning -- was his fifth two-hit game in nine games this month, during which he is hitting .355 with five homers and 15 RBIs.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon also continued his hot September by going 3-for-5 with a two-run homer that extended the Nationals' lead to 6-0 in the fourth inning. Rendon is hitting .324 with seven RBIs and eight runs scored this month.

Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon was ejected when he hit right fielder Jayson Werth in the upper left arm one pitch after Rendon's homer. Colon, who began the day averaging a National League-low 1.2 walks per nine innings, also plunked shortstop Ian Desmond immediately after LaRoche's homer.

Mets manager Terry Collins was ejected for arguing the beanings were unintentional and Colon said there was no purpose behind the pitches. The Nationals seemed to think otherwise.

"I think it just slipped," LaRoche said with a smirk.

"I don't have an opinion one way or the other," said Nationals manager Matt Williams, who played with Colon in Cleveland in 1997. "All I know is he's got excellent control. So we deal with it and move on."

Catcher Anthony Recker homered leading off the fifth for the Mets, who pulled within 6-2 on second baseman Dilson Herrera's RBI single in the seventh. But right-hander Craig Stammen relieved Roark and retired the potential tying run, shortstop Wilmer Flores, on a 6-4-3 double play.

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The Mets loaded the bases again in the eighth, but left-hander Matt Thornton got first baseman Lucas Duda to line out and right-hander Tyler Clippard escaped the jam by striking out Recker.

"We've got to play better," Collins said. "That's the only reason they're beating us at home. We're just not playing. Just like tonight: We had several opportunities to get back in the game and we didn't do anything."

The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Mets (71-76), who fell 6 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh in the race for the NL's second wild card.

The Mets also endured a pair of injury scares when starting catcher Travis d'Arnaud left after five innings with a wrist injury and third baseman Daniel Murphy exited after being hit on the left wrist in the eighth. The wrist immediately swelled up on Murphy but X-rays were negative.

Duda, Recker and left fielder Eric Young all had two hits apiece.

Colon fell to 13-12 after allowing the six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks while striking out two over three-plus innings.

NOTES: Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon (illness) and SS Ian Desmond (back) each returned to the lineup Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's game against the Atlanta Braves. ... Nationals 3B/OF Ryan Zimmerman, who hasn't played since June 22 due to a strained right hamstring, is with the club in New York and will participate in baseball activities prior to all four games. Manager Matt Williams hopes Zimmerman can play in instructional league games next week. ... Following his brief stint Thursday, Mets RHP Bartolo Colon, 41, has thrown 182 2/3 innings this season. The only Mets pitcher 40 years or older to reach 200 innings in a season was Tom Glavine, who threw 200 1/3 innings as a 41-year-old in 2007. ... Mets OF Matt den Dekker (swollen left hand) was out of the lineup for a second day in a row but pinch-ran for 3B Daniel Murphy in the eighth inning.

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