Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer in his return from a long stretch on the disabled list, Jason Vargas tossed six stellar innings, and the Mets beat Washington, 3-0, on Friday night at Citi Field, handing the Nationals their second consecutive shutout.
Wilmer Flores had an early run-scoring single, and the Mets got spotless relief work from Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, finishing the four-hitter.
The stingy pitching finally helped the Mets get the best of a familiar rival in Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez (7-11). Gonzalez, a left-hander, allowed only one run in seven innings but dropped to 11-2 at Citi Field and 15-6 against the Mets. He has lost nine of his last 10 decisions over all.
Bruce was activated after missing more than two months with a sore right hip, and the Mets plan to audition the outfielder at first base down the stretch. But Bruce, a three-time All-Star, started at his regular spot, right field, during his first big league game since June 17 and connected against the left-handed reliever Tim Collins in the eighth.
howcasing a deceptive changeup, Vargas (4-8) permitted three hits and struck out a season-high eight without issuing a walk. Vargas, a left-hander who entered the game with a 7.67 E.R.A., has put together two straight wins and three solid starts in a row in what had been a dismal season.
Lugo threw two perfect innings, striking out three, and Gsellman closed for his eighth save.
After a one-out double by Anthony Rendon in the ninth, Gsellman closed out the game by striking out the slugger Bryce Harper and retiring the cleanup hitter Ryan Zimmerman on a grounder.
Washington lost, 2-0, on Thursday against Philadelphia and the All-Star ace Aaron Nola.
David Wright went 1 for 4 with a single in his ninth rehabilitation game for Class A St. Lucie. He had two assists and a putout in nine innings at third base. Wright, who has not appeared in the majors since May 2016 because of back and shoulder injuries, is hitting .143 (4 for 28). … Catcher Devin Mesoraco sat out with neck stiffness. Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said Mesoraco had had a magnetic resonance imaging test that revealed only muscle problems, so Mesoraco will not need to go on the disabled list and could catch in a pinch. Kevin Plawecki was catching, but his pregnant wife is due at any moment, so the team promoted Tomas Nido from Class AA Binghamton as insurance.