Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and streaking Lucas Duda homered in a span of five pitches, a sudden power strike that charged up Citi Field and sent the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 5-2 Sunday night for a three-game sweep.
Noah Syndergaard (6-5) struck out nine over eight innings, and New York pulled within percentage points of the first-place Nationals in the NL East. Boosted by a trio of lively crowds, the Mets completed their first three-game sweep of Washington since May 2009 and boldly pronounced themselves legitimate playoff contenders.
It was a serious statement from the Mets, now 7-6 against the Nationals this season after going 4-15 vs. their division rivals last year. New York finished a wildly eventful 6-4 homestand that featured one trade that fell through, the additions of four new players -- including slugger Yoenis Cespedes -- and a 162-game drug suspension for reliever Jenrry Mejia.
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Coming into the series, the Nationals had won 18 of their last 21 at Citi Field. The teams meet six more times this year, Sept. 7-9 at Washington and Oct. 2-4 in New York during the final series of the regular season.
Anthony Rendon hit his first homer of the season, and Yunel Escobar also went deep for Washington.
Mets nemesis Jordan Zimmermann (8-7) issued a leadoff walk in the third. Two outs later, Granderson launched a 2-2 curve into the front row of the second deck in right field for his 17th home run.
Murphy hit the next pitch almost halfway up those bleachers, a little to the right of Granderson's drive. Cespedes then singled for his first hit with the Mets, and by the time Duda hit the facing of the second deck with his 21st homer of the season, the chanting crowd of 35,374 was in a full-out frenzy.
It was Duda's ninth home run in his last eight games since July 25. He homered twice Saturday night and hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning of a 3-2 win.
It was the first time the Mets, the lowest-scoring team in the majors this season, hit three long balls in one inning since June 7, 2007, when Carlos Delgado, David Wright and Paul Lo Duca connected off Philadelphia lefty Cole Hamels.
And after seeing his old team raise the home run apple in center field three times in just a couple of minutes, former Mets slugger Mike Piazza tweeted: ''Awesome to watch (hashtag)CitiField Rock!''
Syndergaard, who carried a perfect game through six innings during his previous start against the Padres, walked none and scattered seven hits. He fanned slugger Bryce Harper with his 109th and final pitch, a 99 mph fastball.
Tyler Clippard, who spent seven years with the Nationals, got three outs for his first save with the Mets. He had 17 for Oakland this season before coming over in a trade last Monday.
Nationals: The team hopes RHP Stephen Strasburg (left oblique strain) can return to the rotation after one more rehab outing Monday for Triple-A Syracuse. Strasburg is expected to throw 80-85 pitches.
Mets: LF Michael Cuddyer (left knee inflammation) headed to Florida to begin baseball activities at the team's complex in Port St. Lucie. ... OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis was placed on the 15-day disabled list with discomfort in his neck and left shoulder. Prized outfield prospect Michael Conforto was recalled after a one-day assignment to Triple-A Las Vegas - he never even left New York.
Nationals: Following a 3-7 road trip, the Nationals begin a four-game home series Monday night with RHP Doug Fister (4-6) on the mound against Arizona rookie Zack Godley (2-0).
Mets: In the opener of a three-game series at Miami, 42-year-old Bartolo Colon (9-10) pitches Monday night against Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (8-7). Colon has lost six consecutive decisions, equaling the worst streak of his long career, and New York has dropped his last seven starts. He allowed 10 hits in a season-low 2 1/3 innings Wednesday during a 7-3 loss to San Diego.