NEW YORK — Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and the Washington Nationals stole this one from Noah Syndergaard.
Harper hit two doubles and became the latest player to swipe a base against Syndergaard, helping A.J. Cole post his first major league win as the Nationals beat the New York Mets 4-1 Friday night.
Washington won its fourth in a row and increased its NL East bulge over the wild card-contending Mets to 10 1/2 games.
Like a lot of teams, the Nationals came out running on Syndergaard, stealing four bases in the early innings.
“It’s all around the league that he doesn’t hold runners yet,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said.
Tall and slow to the plate, Syndergaard has had 45 runners steal with him on the mound — the most against any pitcher since Hideo Nomo in 2001, ESPN Stats & Info said.
Baker said the strategy does more than set up runs. It also seems to rankle Syndergaard.
“He’s prideful,” Baker said. After a steal, he added, “he looks at the runner and doesn’t like it very much.”
Only six runners have been caught with Syndergaard pitching. Before the game, Mets manager Terry Collins said Syndergaard had improved at holding runners on base.
Maybe, but after Turner led off the game with a single, he stole two bases and scored on Harper’s sacrifice fly.
“Just told myself at first to go,” Turner said.
With 20 steals, Turner set a Nationals-era record for most by a rookie. He’s also reached base safely in 21 straight games.
“Yeah, he’s real fast, very aggressive, and Noah’s going to have trouble with those kind of guys,” Collins said.
Harper doubled with one out in the fourth, stole his 19th base with two outs and came home on a single by Wilson Ramos. Harper’s double set up Anthony Rendon’s two-run single in the ninth.
The key to hitting Syndergaard, Harper said, is to “not chase tough pitches he throws.”
Cole (1-1) gave up one run and three hits in six innings. He struck out five in his fourth big league start.
“This is what I’ve been working toward,” the 24-year-old righty said.
Asdrubal Cabrera homered for the sixth time in eight games, sending a drive over the right-center wall in the Mets fourth. His 19th home run came one pitch after he hit a long fly that barely hooked foul into the upper deck in right field.
Mark Rzepczynski, Koda Glover, Oliver Perez and Mark Melancon combined for three innings of scoreless relief. Melancon closed for his 38th save.
Syndergaard (12-8) gave up just three hits in seven innings and retired his final 10 batters.
Along with shutting down the Nationals in the middle innings, Syndergaard might have shut down the crowd, too. Earlier this week, he wrote on Twitter and said on video that he wasn’t a fan of fans doing the wave.
Daniel Murphy singled in the ninth, and has a hit in all 14 games against the Mets this season. He also stole a base against the team he boosted to the World Series last year.
The U.S. Open is being held right across the street from Citi Field, and Harper said he didn’t play tennis as a kid growing up in Las Vegas. “Being on the court at 120 degrees, I didn’t want that,” he said. But even a few years ago, tennis had a hand in his development, sort of. “My dad used to pitch me tennis balls,” he said. “They’re hard to square up with a bat, harder than a baseball. You have to hit them just right or you foul them off. Made for a lot of frustrating swings.”
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (sore elbow) threw a bullpen and was feeling good, Baker said. There was no timetable for his return to the rotation, but Baker figured “probably pretty soon.”
Mets: Collins said LHP Steven Matz (shoulder tightness) will head to the team’s spring training complex in Florida after this weekend and start throwing again Monday. Matz is on the disabled list and hasn’t pitched since Aug. 14.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (14-7, 2.87 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA at Citi Field in seven games, four of them starts.
Mets: RHP Robert Gsellman (1-1, 3.72) makes his second major league start. Among those in attendance will be Laurie Hernandez, who won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team and will throw out the first ball.
Follow 106.7 The Fan on Twitter
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)