NEW YORK (AP) — Trea Turner touched the plate, then turned to his teammates on the bench.
“We did it, boys,” he told them.
Turner set off a lively dugout celebration after scoring a run that ended Washington’s 32-inning scoreless drought and the Nationals broke loose in a huge way, hammering the New York Mets 15-0 Sunday.
“I think everybody knew it was coming,” slugger Bryce Harper said.
The Nationals had been shut out in three straight games — for the first time since the team moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005 — before Juan Soto’s RBI groundout in the sixth.
Ahead 1-0 in the eighth, Nats erupted for eight more runs in their biggest inning of the season. The burst featured homers by Adam Eaton and Wilmer Difo, and a three-run, pinch-hit double by Harper.
Mark Reynolds launched his sixth career grand slam to highlight a six-run ninth.
“The bats, like I said, these guys can hit,” manager Dave Martinez said. “They proved that the last couple of innings.”
The romp came with a cost, though, as Nationals reliever Kelvin Herrera was carted off the field with one out to go. He handled Jose Bautista’s grounder, but hurt the top of his left foot running to first base and hopped to the bag.
Herrera had X-rays and was on crutches and wearing a boot after the game. The Nationals said they didn’t yet have an update on his injury.
Hoping for the Nationals’ first run since Ryan Zimmerman’s game-ending homer on Wednesday night, Martinez wrapped up his pregame media session with this exhortation: “Let’s score some points!”
They did, and Jefry Rodriguez (2-1) produced his best performance since his big league debut in June. The 25-year-old righty blanked the Mets on two singles for six innings. He walked four and struck out three.
The Nationals neared the worst slump in franchise history, a 34-inning streak in 2004 as the Expos. The major league record is 48 innings without a run by the 1968 Chicago Cubs and the 1906 Philadelphia Athletics.
Turner almost stopped Washington’s string by himself, leading off the sixth with a drive that hit the padding atop the left-field wall and went for a double. He took third on a single by Anthony Rendon and, after Zimmerman struck out, scored on Soto’s slow roller to the right side.
Turner’s teammates lined up on the bench for a row of hearty high-fives, plus plenty of relieved smiles.
“Just scoring that one run was kind of nice,” Martinez said.
Eaton, who had four hits, started the eighth-inning frenzy with an infield single and capped it with a two-run homer.
In between, Soto drew a bases-loaded walk, Harper doubled and Difo followed with a homer that silenced the crowd. Harper and Difo slapped hands at the plate, loud enough to be heard in the second deck.
“It’s just weird how things happen,” Martinez said.
Bryce Harper punches the clock, immediately gets to work with 3-run, PH double. pic.twitter.com/o1NYK8D3Uk
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 26, 2018
Steven Matz (5-11) gave up one run and five hits over seven innings in his fifth start of the year against Washington. He did a lot better than the previous time he faced them — on July 31, he was tagged for seven runs and recorded just two outs in the poorest outing of his career, a 25-4 loss.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway was startled by how quickly a one-run game turned into a blowout. The rout matched their most lopsided loss at Citi Field, which opened in 2009. Philadelphia beat the Mets 16-1 in 2012.
“We threw 78 pitches in two innings and I think we gave up a few homers, too many walks. We just didn’t throw enough strikes,” he said.
BIG LITTLE LEAGUERS
The Staten Island team that reached the U.S. semifinals at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, worked out on the field before the game. Callaway threw batting practice and pitchers Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman helped the youngsters shag flyballs.
Nationals: Harper wasn’t feeling well and didn’t start. … RHP Ryan Madson was scheduled to throw a bullpen and could come off the disabled list Monday if he feels fine. He hasn’t pitched since Aug. 12 because of nerve irritation that caused pain in his back and neck.
Mets: 2B Jeff McNeil walked and singled to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, but left after six innings with tightness in his right quad. He’s day to day.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-7, 4.23 ERA) starts vs. RHP Zach Eflin (9-4, 3.93) at Philadelphia on Monday night. Strasburg came off the disabled list last week after missing more than a month with a neck problem and gave up five runs in four innings against the Phillies. His velocity dipped in his last inning.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 3.68 ERA) starts vs. Cubs LHP Jon Lester (14-5, 3.64) in a three-game series at Wrigley Field that begins Monday night.