By RONALD BLUM AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon had two-run homers off Bartolo Colon, who was ejected after hitting the following batter both times, and the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-2 Thursday night for their 12th straight win at Citi Field.
Washington opened its NL East lead to 8 1/2 games over second-place Atlanta, and the Nationals lowered their magic number to nine for clinching their second division title in three seasons. Washington improved to 26-4 at Citi Field since September 2011, outscoring the Mets 156-68 and outhomering them 49-18 in that span.
New York had entered with four straight wins, tying its season high, and a 19-inning scoreless streak by its pitchers. But the Mets were sloppy from the start.
Travis d’Arnaud lost track of the outs and was doubled up on a soft pop by Dilson Herrera in the second. And a mix-up on coverage at second by Herrera and shortstop Wilmer Flores on a third-inning comebacker led to a throwing error by Colon (13-12) and an unearned run.
With the Mets trailing 6-1, Eric Young Jr. was thrown out when he tried to go from first to third on an errant pickoff throw by Tanner Roark.
Roark (13-10) improved to 4-0 in four career starts against the Mets. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings to win four the first time in four starts since Aug. 20. After Herrera’s RBI single in the seventh, Craig Stamman relieved with the bases loaded and got Flores to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Matt Thornton hit Daniel Murphy on the left wrist in the eighth, loading the bases with one out. Lucas Duda lined out, and Tyler Clippard struck out Anthony Recker. An X-ray of Murphy’s wrist was negative.
Only 2,000 to 3,000 fans were in the stands during the pregame ceremony marking the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Washington wore its alternate dark road jerseys with a stars and stripes curly “W,” and during batting practice the Mets wore hats of the New York police and fire department and other services. While the announced attendance was 21,111, it appeared less than half that amount was in the stands.
LaRoche’s first-inning home run high off the right-field foul pole put the Nationals ahead, his 28th career homer against the Mets, and Colon hit Ian Desmond with a pitch near the waist two pitches later.
LaRoche’s RBI single and Wilson Ramos’ run-scoring groundout made it 4-0 in the third, and Rendon hit another two-run homer in the fourth, a drive that struck the orange line atop the left-field wall, ricocheted off the dark green railing behind, hit back off the orange line and bounded onto the field.
The play was upheld on a video review, and Colon hit Jayson Werth above the left elbow with the next pitch. Werth looked out toward the mound, and plate umpire John Tumpane ejected the pitcher. New York manager Terry Collins came out of the dugout to speak with Tumpane, and he also was ejected.
Colon is one of the best control pitchers in the majors. He hit two batters in one game for the fifth time in his big career and first time since 2009. He was replaced by Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Colon allowed six runs _ five earned _ seven hits and two walks in three-plus innings. Colon has a 7.07 ERA in the first inning this year, allowing 22 earned runs and 38 hits in 28 innings.
Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman, sidelined since straining his right hamstring on July 22, is taking pregame workouts, and manager Matt Williams said the team will decide this weekend whether to send him to instructional league for games. … Desmond returned to the starting lineup after missing a game because of a sore lower back.
Mets: OF Matt den Dekker missed his second straight start after being hit by a pitch on his left hand Tuesday but pinch ran for Murphy in the eighth.
LHP Gio Gonzalez is slated to start for Washington on Friday and RHP Dillon Gee for New York.
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