Davis, the presumptive favorite in a first-base competition with Lucas Duda, hit a two-run homer, but Taylor's RBI triple in the ninth gave the Nationals a 5-4 victory at Tradition Field in Matt Williams' first game as manager. The Mets received a combined four perfect innings with six strikeouts from rookie fifth-starter candidates Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom, but it was not enough.
Those pitching performances did catch the early attention of the Port St. Lucie crowd, many of whom were enjoying the low-70s sunshine after traveling from New York's sub-freezing chill. But Davis changed the narrative by mashing a Christian Garcia pitch over the wall for a two-run homer with two outs in the fifth, scoring Cesar Puello, who knocked in two runs earlier in the inning with a double.
Davis finished 1-for-3 with the homer and a strikeout. Duda, who was 1-for-3 with a double, would have enjoyed an even better day had Eury Perez not tracked down his would-be gapper with one out in the second.
After Montero and deGrom departed, Wilson Ramos doubled home the Nationals' first run against Erik Goeddel in the fifth. Ramos moved to third base on a one-out wild pitch, but Goeddel induced a groundout and a strikeout to end the threat.
The Nationals stacked the middle of their lineup with projected starters, but they did not begin generating significant offense until that group left the game. Doubles by Koyie Hill and Zach Walters gave the Nats their second run in the seventh inning, and Steven Souza's RBI single off Adam Kolarek drew Washington back within one. The Nats tied the game an inning later on Walters' second double of the day, this time off Gonzalez Germen.
Offense was not so plentiful against the Mets' rookie duo of Montero and deGrom. Not long after Montero struck out Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche to highlight his two perfect innings, deGrom punctuated his day with whiffs of Tyler Moore, Scott Hairston, Nate McLouth and Zimmerman.
"I only threw two offspeed pitches," deGrom said. "I was locating my fastball really well. That was the biggest key to those two innings to me."
Up next: The bullpen competition kicks into high gear on Saturday, with Vic Black, Kyle Farnsworth and Scott Rice all scheduled to pitch in a 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Marlins at Tradition Field (watch on MLB.TV). Left-hander John Lannan, a candidate for the Mets' fifth-starter job, will start opposite Kevin Slowey.