NEW YORK -- The Nationals and Mets matched up for the final time this season Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, so it was fitting for one final matchup between their respective aces, Max Scherzer from Washington and Jacob deGrom of New York.
Scherzer outdueled deGrom to lead the Nationals to a 3-2 victory, which secured home-field advantage for Washington in the National League Division Series. The Nats will almost certainly have Bryce Harper back for that NLDS, and manager Dusty Baker said Harper could be activated as early as Monday night's game against the Phillies, although the Nationals were still trying to "make up their mind."
"That's why these games are so important," Scherzer said. "Everybody's trying to make those fine-tune adjustments to get on top of their game, so when you do get in the playoffs, you're already accustomed to knowing how you need to play offensively and defensively."
Scherzer gave up one run in six innings and struck out 10, his 15th double-digit strikeout game of the season in 30 starts. He did so in 87 pitches, the second consecutive night the Nationals have limited pitch counts for their starting pitcher after Stephen Strasburg threw just 83 on Saturday night.
"I'm not fighting it," Scherzer said. "It's smart considering I only have one more start before the postseason. I got my work in today, executed pitches, and we came away with a win."
deGrom tossed six innings of three-run ball and struck out 11. He also reached 200 innings this season for the first time in his career, making him the first Mets pitcher to reach that plateau since Bartolo Colon did so in 2014.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Solis escapes jam:Ryan Madson has been lights out since joining the Nationals earlier this season, but the Mets got to him working on the second part of a back-to-back after tossing 11 pitches Saturday. Madson recorded two outs in the eighth inning, but he gave up a run on three hits and a walk. Madson left with the bases loaded for left-hander Sammy Solis, who matched up against Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki. After falling behind 3-1 in the count, Solis fired back with a pair of fastballs to retire Plawecki swinging.
"Things were moving pretty fast in the beginning, couple balls up and out, just speeding up arm kind of lagging behind," Solis said. "Just took a deep breath … geared up and gave him my best fastball, and he swung and missed, thankfully."
Solis has completed nine consecutive scoreless appearances and owns a 1.42 ERA over his past 14 appearances.
Laser home run: Even Trea Turner's home runs leave the yard quickly. He roped a laser line drive for a two-run homer in the third inning to put the Nationals ahead. The ball left the bat at 104.4 mph with a launch angle of 19 degrees off deGrom, according to Statcast™, for Turner's 11th home run of the year.
"Teams that have seen him several times throughout the summer, they talk about how good he is. There's no reason why his name shouldn't be in the mix somewhere, with 15 wins. Had we scored a few more runs for him, he certainly would have more than that." -- Mets manager Terry Collins, on deGrom's National League Cy Young Award credentials
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
deGrom's 239 strikeouts are the ninth-highest single-season total in Mets history. Tom Seaver struck out a franchise-record 289 batters in 1971, and holds six of the top 10 totals on the franchise's all-time list. The only other players to crack the top 10 are Dwight Gooden and David Cone. In addition, deGrom, Seaver and Gooden are the only Mets to compile at least 11 double-digit strikeout games in a season. Gooden holds that record, with 15.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
For the second straight game, the Mets lost a challenge, this time contending that Amed Rosario did not line into an inning-ending double play in the seventh, with Phillip Evans doubled off first base. Umpires upheld the call following a brief replay review.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Washington heads to Philadelphia for its final road series of the year beginning Monday night at 7:05 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park. Harper could return to the lineup for the Nationals for the first time since Aug. 12 to help back right-hander A.J. Cole on the mound.
Mets: New York will welcome Atlanta for a four-game series beginning with a twi-night doubleheader Monday at Citi Field. The second of those games is a makeup of an April 25 rainout. Rookie Chris Flexen will start Monday's 4:10 p.m. ET matinee, with Seth Lugo scheduled to pitch the nightcap. They will oppose Lucas Sims and Max Fried, respectively.