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Harper, Nats rout Mets 10-3 to close in on NL East

NEW YORK -- With a versatile lineup that can generate offense in so many different ways, the Washington Nationals definitely look like a dangerous team come October.

Bryce Harper homered, Ian Desmond drove in three runs and Washington moved a step closer to its second NL East title in three years with a 10-3 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday night.

"We have a deep lineup," Desmond said. "It's a good feeling for us. I'm sure it's not a very good feeling for the opposing team. There's a lot of different threats."

Anthony Rendon added to his huge series with four hits as the Nationals outhit New York 15-6 and reduced their magic number to six for clinching the division. Denard Span had a two-run homer in the ninth inning and scored three times.

"I'm really happy with where we are as a team. We're playing really good baseball," Desmond said. "It's just an exciting time of the year for everybody."

Doug Fister was handed a 6-0 lead and breezed to his fourth win in four career starts against the Mets -- all in the past 13 months. One night after their 12-game winning streak at Citi Field was snapped, the Nationals went right back to dominating New York on a dreary night in Queens.

Desmond got three hits and stole two bases. He also drew a leadoff walk from an ineffective Zack Wheeler (10-10) in the second before Harper launched a high drive down the right-field line that landed in the second deck for his 13th home run of the season.

Harper finished with three hits and Jayson Werth knocked in two runs to give Washington four players with at least 80 RBIs.

"The objective is to grind at-bats, and we've got a lot of guys on our club that do that," manager Matt Williams said.

Rendon is 10 for 15 with two homers in the four-game series that wraps up Sunday. He was answering questions from reporters at his locker when a teammate walked by and bellowed, "What's it like to wake up in the morning and be great? You should know."

"I've been more relaxed. If I knew anything different or any change, I guess I'd never get out," Rendon said with a chuckle. "Fortunate series so far."

Wilmer Flores hit a two-run homer and Juan Lagares had three hits for the sloppy Mets, who have dropped 17 of their last 20 against Washington. They made three of their four errors on consecutive batters in the sixth -- right fielder Curtis Granderson even dropped a fly ball later in the game that turned into a forceout.

New York had won eight of 10 overall.

"When you don't pitch, the game is going to get ugly," manager Terry Collins said.

Working in a steady rain during the middle innings, Fister (14-6) needed only 75 pitches to get through six. He gave up three runs -- two earned -- and five hits in his second consecutive win after losing three straight starts. The big right-hander has a 1.01 ERA against the Mets.

Wheeler threw 100 pitches in four-plus innings and was charged with six runs on seven hits. He was 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA in his previous 13 starts since June 29.

"I didn't have my command. Whenever I did throw a strike, something crazy happened," Wheeler said. "Something was wrong with my mechanics and I couldn't figure it out."

THE SHORT LIST

Desmond joined Hanley Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez as the only major league shortstops with at least 20 homers and 20 steals in three straight seasons. Jimmy Rollins has accomplished the feat four times, but never three years in a row.

FAVORITE FOE

Harper has hit 10 of his 55 career homers against the Mets, including four this year.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Werth returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game because of a bout with the flu and "dead legs," as Williams put it. ... Ryan Zimmerman plans to leave Sunday for the Florida instructional league so he can begin playing in games. Zimmerman has been on the disabled list since straining his right hamstring July 22. He hopes to return before the regular season ends.

Mets: Daniel Murphy was back in the lineup at 3B. He sat out Friday after getting hit in the left wrist Thursday by a pitch from Nationals reliever Matt Thornton. ... Matt den Dekker sat out again and was scheduled to be re-examined by a doctor. The outfielder was hit by a pitch on his left hand Tuesday. "That hand is just not getting much better," Collins said. "He can't grip the bat yet. He's having a tough time throwing."

UP NEXT

Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (11-5, 2.93 ERA) starts the series finale against LHP Jonathon Niese (8-10, 3.59). It will be Zimmermann's 10th career start at Citi Field. Niese has not beaten the Nationals since August 2012.