Harper HR, key single in 10th lift Nats over Mets
By BEN WALKER
NEW YORK (AP) Bases loaded, tie game, extra innings and Bryce Harper at the plate with only one goal in mind: Don't ground into a double play.
Not to worry, rook.
Harper homered his first time up in New York, then hit a tiebreaking single to key a six-run burst in the 10th that sent the Washington Nationals over the Mets 8-2 Monday night.
"Coming to New York, all the fans love their teams, you just try to come in here and play it like another team," Harper said.
Shortstop Ruben Tejada's error on a potential double-play ball set up the big 10th. Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run double and Michael Morse added a two-run homer as the NL East-leading Nationals broke away.
The Mets lost for the 10th time in 11 games. A day earlier, they gave up five runs in the 12th inning and fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3.
The six runs tied the most the Mets had ever allowed in an extra inning. Never before had they lost consecutive extra-inning games by at least five runs.
"I'm on top of that stuff every day," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I don't have to hold team meetings to make sure I get to see key people."
It was 2-all on a rainy evening when Roger Bernadina opened the Washington 10th with a bloop single. Sandy Leon followed with an easy comebacker to Tim Byrdak (2-2), but Tejada dropped the throw and got spiked in the right calf by a sliding Bernadina.
After pitching coach Dan Warthen went to the mound, Harper made it 3-2 with a sharp single to right-center. Zimmerman, chosen earlier in the day as the NL player of the week, doubled to the right-center alley and a hustling Harper almost caught a standing-up Lombardozzi near home plate.
"I just kept going," Harper said. "If he slides in front of me, I have to slide the other way."
Morse capped the rally with his sixth homer.
"Bats woke up," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
The Nationals improved to 3-0 against the Mets in extras this season. Last week, Harper hit a tying triple in the 10th against New York.
Harper hit a two-run homer in the first inning that sailed into the Washington bullpen beyond the right-center wall.
The rookie connected for his ninth home run of the season and first since June 28, a span of 82 at-bats. He later drew a walk from Chris Young and stole his 13th base.
Harper grew up in Las Vegas and said he twice came on family vacations to New York City. The highlights, he recalled, were seeing Times Square and Central Park and going to a game at old Yankee Stadium when was about 12 in which current teammate Chien-Ming Wang pitched.
If he has time on this short trip, Harper said he most wanted to visit the 9/11 memorial at ground zero.
Young and Zimmermann matched up for the third time this season. Last Wednesday, Zimmermann threw six scoreless innings to win in Washington.
Zimmermann allowed four hits, walked none and struck out six in six innings. Young retired 14 straight batters in the middle innings, allowed three hits and struck out seven before leaving after the seventh.
NOTES: A Snooki, a Wookiee and a Rookie - but no Mookie. It was "Star Wars" night at Citi Field, featuring dressed-up characters. Mets fan Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi from "Jersey Shore" also was on hand - she got booed - as was Mets rookie pitcher Matt Harvey, who will make his big league debut Thursday night at Arizona. Alas, Mets ambassador Mookie Wilson was not seen. ... Washington put All-Star SS Ian Desmond on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique. ... Byrdak pitched for the fifth straight day. ... The Mets said closer Frank Francisco (oblique) has discomfort in his right knee and received a shot. He will not begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Class-A Brooklyn as planned. Instead, he won't pitch until at least Wednesday.
Updated July 24, 2012