Mets' offense held in check by Nationals

Making Grapefruit League debut, Murphy notches first-inning single

Mets' offense held in check by Nationals

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals closed out their Grapefruit League season on a high note, beating the division rival Mets, 5-1, at Space Coast Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

The Nationals will head north to take on the Yankees in an exhibition game Friday in Washington, while the Mets will wrap up their Grapefruit League slate on Friday against the Cardinals in Port St. Lucie.

Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa both homered in a four-run second inning that gave the Nats a comfortable lead and chased Mets starter Domingo Tapia. Meanwhile, Washington starter Gio Gonzalez was excellent through four shutout innings, striking out seven in his final exhibition start. He's in line to pitch the Nationals' second game of the regular season.

Tapia, projected to begin the season with Class A Port St. Lucie in the Mets' system, struggled throughout. Nine Nationals hitters came to the plate in the four-run second that also included RBIs for Bryce Harper and Denard Span.

"When you've got a young kid on the mound ... there are some circumstances that you put these guys in that they're not always necessarily that comfortable in," manager Terry Collins said. "When we get the [Opening Day] lineup out there hopefully on Saturday, we'll see what they look like. If they're that sloppy Saturday, I'll have some concerns."

After singling in his first at-bat of the afternoon, Harper's streak of consecutive plate appearances reaching base ended at 11 in the second when he lined out to left field, though he still drove in a run on the play. His Grapefruit League batting average closes at a remarkable .484.

In his first game action this spring, Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy went 1-for-3, reaching on a broken-bat single in his first at-bat. Greg Burke threw a scoreless 1 2/3 innings of relief for New York.

Up next: Bumped up a spot in the rotation, Matt Harvey will make his final Grapefruit League start Friday against the Cardinals at Tradition Field. Harvey was originally scheduled to open the season April 4 against the Padres, but Shaun Marcum's neck injury shifted him up to Wednesday instead. Harvey will oppose right-hander Jake Westbrook in Friday's 12:10 p.m. ET game.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.