WASHINGTON -- The Nationals used the long ball -- highlighted by a grand slam by Michael Morse -- to defeat the Mets, 6-4, at Nationals Park on Friday night.
Washington is now 74-45 and remains four games ahead of the Braves in the National League East.
The Nationals were behind, 2-0, and without a hit against Mets left-hander Johan Santana after three innings. But that changed by the fourth inning.
Santana allowed three consecutive singles up the middle to Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. Morse came to the plate and hit a 1-1 pitch over the right-field wall for a grand slam, the third of his career. A curtain call was in order, and Morse gave the fans what they wanted.
"That was live. That was awesome," teammate Jayson Werth said. "I was probably just as excited as all of the fans. This is what makes it fun. I've been in this situation a few times before, and this is what it's all about."
Santana said he had problems with his location when facing Morse that inning.
"We tried to come up and in to Morse, and it just stayed pretty much up in the middle of the plate and he put a good swing [on it]," Santana said. "We had a plan coming in, I felt pretty good. I warmed up pretty good. I was commanding my fastball better tonight, it just came down to a couple of pitches."
After the game, Morse wasn't available to the media, but Werth talked about how excited to see Morse hit the slam.
"All these games are big games." Werth said. "The Mets are ahead, 2-0. Johan is perfect through three, Mikey goes big fly to make it a 4-2 game, just like that."
Considering that he missed the first two months of the season because of a lat strain, Morse has put up some nice numbers, hitting .300 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs.
"It has been a lot of fun watching Mikey the last couple of years, kind of come into his own and turn into the player that he has become. He is awesome," Werth said. "Come out early and watch batting practice. He will put on a show. He is a great teammate and a great guy to have.
"We have six weeks of ball left. A lot could happen in a playoff chase. That's something this team has never had. It exciting for me in that situation, especially [Zimmerman] and up and down our lineup. We have some guys that are big-game players. We have talent, and I think it's going to be fun to watch the rest of the way."
Manager Davey Johnson took notice that Morse has looked more aggressive at plate dating back to the last road trip earlier this month.
"It started in Houston. He really started getting into an aggressive hitting mode -- really hitting off the fastball better," Johnson said about Morse. "[Before] he was more or less defending on the fastball and hitting breaking stuff."
An inning after the grand slam, Santana was able to get two quick outs, but had a tough time getting the third. After Werth singled, Harper slammed a two-run homer into the right-field stands for his 11th home run of the season.
Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler got off to a slow start, allowing a two-run single to Daniel Murphy in the first inning. But he retired 10 out of the next 11 hitters he faced and ended up winning his 11th game of the season. Detwiler pitched six innings and allowed three runs on six hits.
"I focused down in the zone," Detwiler said about his outing after the first inning. "The pitches in [the first inning] were up. Sinkers weren't sinking. They got good wood on the ball."
It was a far cry from his last start on Sunday against the D-backs. He lasted 4 2/3 innings and allowed four earned runs. It didn't help that Detwiler was under the weather that day.
The Mets scored their last run of the game in the seventh inning, when Kelly Shoppach hit a solo homer off reliever Craig Stammen. Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard blanked New York for the final two innings, with Clippard collecting his 26th save.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.