Stephen Strasburg outpitched Noah Syndergaard, rookie Victor Robles homered for Washington’s only hit until the ninth inning and the Nationals beat the drowsy Mets 4-0 to spoil New York’s home opener Thursday.
Wilmer Difo drove in two runs, and Washington’s struggling bullpen shined after Strasburg (1-0) struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings. Matched against Syndergaard for the second time in six days, Strasburg took a one-hitter into the seventh before giving up consecutive singles with two outs.
Matt Grace threw a called third strike past pinch-hitter J.D. Davis, then Justin Miller and Tony Sipp combined to whiff three in a hitless eighth. Sean Doolittle completed the four-hitter, making Strasburg 8-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 11 starts at Citi Field.
Coming in, Washington relievers ranked last in the majors with an 11.02 ERA, and opponents were batting .377 against them. But a week after getting shut out in their home opener by Jacob deGrom and the Mets, the Nationals turned the tables.
The only hit Syndergaard (0-1) allowed in six innings was Robles’ leadoff homer in the sixth. He struck out six and walked two.
Anthony Rendon doubled against Seth Lugo to start the ninth and scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s sacrifice fly. Difo, who delivered a safety squeeze in the second, added an RBI single off Tim Peterson.
Following a 5-1 trip to start the season, the Mets got back to New York after 2 a.m. in the wake of a 6-4 victory in Miami. About 11 hours later, they were on the field again — and their offense looked a little sleepy.
Wilson Ramos’ leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth was the first hit of the game, although Washington had already been handed a run. Syndergaard walked the first two batters in the second, and both moved up on a wild pitch. Juan Soto scored without a play when Syndergaard wisely went to first with Difo’s sacrifice bunt.
The 21-year-old Robles, batting ninth behind Strasburg, drove the first pitch of the sixth over the left-field fence for his second homer this season and fifth in the majors.
Nationals: Veteran INF-OF Howie Kendrick was reinstated from the injured list after recovering from a strained left hamstring and was available off the bench. “He’s a huge addition to our team, not only what he can do on the field but what he does off the field and in the clubhouse,” manager Dave Martinez said. The 35-year-old Kendrick had been sidelined since rupturing his right Achilles tendon on May 19 last year. “I’d like to get him a start here pretty soon, just to get him back in the field,” Martinez said. … 1B Matt Adams (back spasms) pinch-hit in the ninth and grounded into a fielder’s choice. Adams left Tuesday’s game after taking a nasty fall over a railing while trying to catch a foul popup. … RHP Anibal Sanchez plans to make his next scheduled start despite a sizable bruise on his right hip. Sanchez was hit by a line drive Wednesday and left his Nationals debut early. … OF Michael A. Taylor (right knee/hip sprain) was set to begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Harrisburg.
Mets: Jeff McNeil was back in the lineup at third base after sitting out Wednesday in Miami with a sore left knee. … Leadoff batter Brandon Nimmo, hit by a pitch on the knuckle of his left ring finger Tuesday, has struck out in 14 of his 23 at-bats this season.
Nationals: After an off day, $140 million lefty Patrick Corbin makes his second start for Washington — both against the Mets. Corbin, from the Syracuse area in Central New York, allowed two runs over six innings in a no-decision Sunday.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (0-0, 1.69 ERA) was moved up a day to pitch Saturday because the team wanted to split up Matz and fellow left-hander Jason Vargas in the rotation, manager Mickey Callaway said. RHP Zack Wheeler will now start Sunday in between them. Matz is 1-5 with a 3.93 ERA in 10 starts against Washington, including 0-4 at home.