At least they avoided a no-hitter — barely. That was about all the New York Mets could say for themselves.
Gio Gonzalez wound up inches away in a one-hitter and the Washington Nationals hit five home runs, including long balls by their first two batters in a 9-0 rout Monday night.
Gonzalez held the overmatched Mets hitless into the seventh before pinch-hitter Zach Lutz broke up the bid with a soft single. Lutz swung at the first pitch of the inning and sliced a looper that landed on the first base line, taking out a chunk of chalk well behind the bag.
"Off the end of the bat," Lutz said. "It was good luck."
First baseman Adam LaRoche made a diving attempt as the ball hit the dirt, but it squirted by and into foul territory along the right field line. First base umpire John Hirschbeck correctly called it fair, and Gonzalez (10-6) paused behind the mound to stare in that direction.
"LaRoche came over to me and said, 'I'm sick to my stomach.' All the guys came over and said the same thing," said Gonzalez, who won 21 games last season and finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting.
Undeterred, the left-hander kept sailing along in a dominant performance. He struck out eight and walked two for his second career shutout and fourth complete game, improving to 5-0 in six starts against the Mets since last year's All-Star break.
The only ball New York hit hard all night was a line drive to shortstop by Juan Lagares in the fifth. Gonzalez walked his second batter and the penultimate one. Other than Lutz's lucky stroke, that was about it.
"Fortunately, we put a ball in play where no one was at so we go home at least knowing we didn't get no-hit," manager Terry Collins said. "Obviously, we feel very fortunate."
Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman hit back-to-back homers to start the game. Jayson Werth and Tyler Moore also connected off Carlos Torres (3-4), roughed up by Washington for the second time in six weeks.
Wilson Ramos added a three-run shot off reliever Greg Burke.
The five home runs were the most a team has hit in one game at Citi Field, which opened in 2009.
"We didn't pitch. You don't give up all those home runs," Collins said.
Washington gave Gonzalez a two-run lead before he took the mound, hitting two homers on Torres' first eight pitches.
Span's shot to right was his sixth career leadoff homer and first for the Nationals this season. It also extended his hitting streak to 20 games, the longest active run in the majors.
Zimmerman followed with a drive to left-center for his fourth home run in three days and sixth in the last seven games.
The previous time the Mets served up homers to the first two batters in a game was June 28, 2003, when Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter went deep for the Yankees, according to STATS.
"That was the first time I had ever seen it," Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud said.
Span singled in the third, Zimmerman walked and Werth hit a three-run shot to left-center.
Moore opened the fourth with a long drive to straightaway center, making it 6-0. Ramos connected in the fifth, and the only drama left was Gonzalez's pursuit of a no-hitter.
"His command was there the whole game, with all his pitches," d'Arnaud said.
Torres gave up six runs and five hits in four innings. He's made four solid starts for the Mets and turned in two duds against the Nationals, including their 14-1 rout on July 28.
"Left pitches up and they just didn't miss them," d'Arnaud said.
NOTES: Collins confirmed that injured closer Bobby Parnell will have season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. The team hopes Parnell will be ready for spring training. ... At the end of spring training next year, the Mets plan to play two exhibition games against the Toronto Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. ... New York called up OF Mike Baxter, C Juan Centeno and RHP Aaron Harang from Triple-A Las Vegas. Harang, who was 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA for Seattle this year, was slotted to start Thursday in the series finale. That would bump back LHP Jonathon Niese at least a day. The Mets need an extra starter this week because of an upcoming doubleheader Saturday against Miami. ... 1B Ike Davis (oblique) and LHP Scott Rice (sports hernia), both out for the season, were placed on the 60-day disabled list. ... The last time the Mets managed only one hit was June 27, 2009, at home against the Yankees. The last time the Mets served up five long balls in a home game was Aug. 2, 2005, against Milwaukee at Shea Stadium. ... Washington OF Bryce Harper will miss at least the first two games of the series with inflammation in his left hip. ... Nationals manager Davey Johnson, 70, has said this will be his final season as a major league manager, so this series marks his last scheduled visit to Queens, where he piloted the Mets to the 1986 World Series title.