Walker gets 1st win for Mets, who take 2 of 3 from Nationals

By JERRY BEACH

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Taijuan Walker pitched three-hit ball over seven innings in his first win for the Mets, J.D. Davis hit a two-run homer in the first off a faltering Patrick Corbin and New York beat Washington 4-0 Sunday to take two of three in the matchup of NL East rivals.

Corbin lost his 10th straight decision dating to last August.

Walker (1-1), who signed a $23 million, three-year contract as a free agent, made his fourth start.

“Give it up to the defense, man, They really helped me out today,” Walker said. “I didn’t have my best stuff. They came through for me. The offense putting up runs early was helpful, too. Let me attack and just go after hitters.”

Walker allowed a pair of leadoff runners but picked off Josh Harrison in the first and got help in the third when Victor Robles was throwing out trying to stretch a leadoff double to right, with Michael Conforto throwing to second baseman Jonathan Villar, who made the toss to Davis at third for the tag.

“It was a tough read on Victor,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “The ball’s in front of him. For him, it’s just these young mistakes. Right there, you can’t make the first out at third base.”

Albert Almora Jr. made a running, leaping catch at the center-field wall of a Kyle Schwarber drive to end the sixth and save two runs.

“That was such a sexy catch,” said Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, who homered into the black beyond the left-centerfield fence leading off the fifth. “I got so fired up..”

Almora and Schwarber were teammates on the 2016 World Series-winning Chicago Cubs and spent their entire careers together until they were non-tendered by the Cubs last Dec. 2.

“Schwarber’s one of my best friends, but at the end of the day, the game of baseball comes first,” said Almora, who said he played video games with Schwarber following Saturday’s game. “He’s going to have plenty more opportunities to hit homers and hit doubles. I’m sure he understands.”

Schwarber couldn’t suppress a grin as Almora raced off the field accepting congratulations from his new teammates.

“I just couldn’t help and laugh there,” Schwarber said. “When I hit It, I thought it might have a chance. But as he kept running, I was like ‘Oh man, it might have to get over his head.’ He made a really good catch there.”

Walker struck out four and walked three.

Miguel Castro struck out Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Bell to escape a two-on jam in the eighth, and Edwin Díaz finished the five-hitter with a perfect ninth for the Mets’ second shutout of the series and third this season.

Davis had three hits, raising his average to .414, and scored on James McCann’s RBI single in the fourth. Davis’ homer, which followed Alonso’s walk, gave him four homers in 27 at-bats against Corbin.

“He is an ace, he does deserve some respect so I’m not going to come up here and say how easy it is,” Davis said. “It’s just one of those things in baseball where you just have a little more success against one individual pitcher. And Corbin would be that guy.”

Corbin (0-3) allowed four runs, seven hits and three walks in four-plus innings, lowering his ERA from 10.95 to 10.47. He is 0-10 in 11 starts since winning at Citi Field last Aug. 10.

Yadiel Hernández had two hits for the Nationals.

∫ AROUND THE HORN: A player was thrown out at every base Sunday. Villar was picked off first by Corbin in the second, when the tag was made by shortstop Trea Turner. Francisco Lindor was thrown out at home in the fifth trying to score on Conforto’s flyout to left — he was called safe at first by plate umpire Doug Eddings, a call reversed in a video review. Brandon Nimmo was thrown out by catcher Yan Gomes trying to steal second in the seventh.

∫ RACING TOWARDS HERD IMMUNITY: Nationals manager Dave Martinez said more players have received the COVID-19 vaccine and he expects the team to reach the 85 percent threshold required to loosen protocols. Washington had 11 players either test positive for the virus or exposed to a teammate who had the virus prior to opening day.

Saturday

Nationals 7, Mets 1

NEW YORK — Joe Ross tossed six solid innings and helped himself with an RBI single as Washington beat New York.

Yadiel Hernandez, a 33-year-old rookie who entered with six hits in 36 career at-bats, had two hits and two RBIs for the Nationals.

Michael Conforto homered in the fourth for the Mets.

Ross (2-1) allowed five hits and one walk while striking out four.

Marcus Stroman (3-1) yielded five runs, four earned, on eight hits and two walks.

By Paul Wager