By BEN WALKER AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Bryce Harper hit a home run so hard that it twice sailed over the head of Mets right fielder Jay Bruce, propelling Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals past New York 8-3 Thursday night.
Harper lined a solo drive in the first inning that sailed about a dozen rows deep into the seats. The ball ricocheted out of the stands in a hurry and Bruce couldn’t catch the rebound, the carom flying far onto the grass.
Harper’s 17th home run left the bat at 116.3 mph, his hardest-hit ball since Statcast began tracking in 2015.
Daniel Murphy added three more hits against his former team and Michael A. Taylor hit the Nationals league-leading 100th home run to cap a five-run fifth. Manager Dusty Baker won on his 68th birthday, while Gio Gonzalez improved to 10-1 at Citi Field.
The NL East-leading Nationals had lost five of six going into this four-game series while the sub-.500 Mets had won five of six.
The banged-up Mets lost more than a game.
A day after pitcher Matt Harvey and second baseman Neil Walker left with injuries that will put both of them on the disabled list, center fielder Juan Lagares broke his right thumb trying to make a diving catch. Earlier in the game, the former Gold Glover threw out Harper at the plate.
Gonzalez (6-1) gave up two hits and five hits in seven innings. A career .102 hitter coming in, he helped himself with an RBI single.
Robert Gsellman (5-4) was tagged for seven runs and 11 hits in five innings. He had won three straight starts, but fell behind when Harper homered.
Wilmer Flores and Rene Rivera homered for the Mets.
PITCH `N CATCH
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram, the team’s first-round draft pick, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The former Mississippi star exchanged a quick hug with Gsellman and made a solid toss from the down slope of the mound.
Baker said son Darren was still headed to play at the University of California, a day after the 18-year-old shortstop was drafted in the 27th round by the Nationals. “It’s all good,” dad said, “but he’s going to school.”
Nationals: LHP Matt Grace was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse for his fifth stint this season with Washington. RHP Trevor Gott was sent down, a day after he was hit hard while throwing 52 pitches vs. Atlanta.
Mets: Walker (hamstring) was put on the 10-day disabled list and Harvey (stress injury to shoulder) was set to go on the DL on Friday. … OF Michael Conforto missed his fourth straight start with a stiff back, but came in after Lagares was hurt.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (7-4, 2.36 ERA) leads the NL with 124 strikeouts. He pitched the second of two no-hitters in 2015 at Citi Field, fanning 17 Mets.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (1-0, 1.29) pitched seven strong innings last weekend at Atlanta to win his season debut after a bout with elbow inflammation.
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