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Morning Briefing: Mets starting to pull away from Nats?

DENVER --

FIRST PITCH: Make it a five-game lead for the New York Mets atop the NL East.

The Washington Nationals continued their tumble Friday, again dropping under .500 with a 10-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Nats also lost Yunel Escobar during the game to a neck injury.

On Saturday, the Mets look to keep things rolling with Jonathon Niese on the mound against the Colorado Rockies. Niese (7-9, 3.50 ERA) opposes left-hander Chris Rusin (4-5, 3.99) at 8:10 p.m. ET at Coors Field.

The Mets’ current division lead is their largest since late in the 2007 season, when they were frittering away a seven-game lead with 17 to play.

SATURDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Yoenis Cespedes had his best game as a major leaguer. He finished with three homers, seven RBIs and scored five times as the Mets survived a 14-9 slugfest against the Rockies on Friday. The Mets built an early six-run lead, but Colorado rallied to tie the score at 8. Cespedes then answered with a tiebreaking two-run homer against Christian Friedrich. “It was a Coors Field game. There’s no other way to explain it,” manager Terry Collins said. “You never felt comfortable no matter what the score was. Even early, you’ve got a six-run lead and you’re thinking, ‘We’ve got eight innings to play yet. This is going to change.’ We just kept swinging the bats. I’m real proud of them. Boy, I’ll tell you, after they gave up the lead, they just continued to peck away.” Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.

  • Matt Harvey will be skipped on Sunday. Logan Verrett instead will take that start. The Mets similarly will have Noah Syndergaard miss a start to conserve his innings count, although Syndergaard will proceed with Tuesday’s turn at Philadelphia. Read analysis from columnist John Harper in the Daily News and news stories in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record, Journal and at MLB.com.

  • Lucas Duda, who recently was out of the starting lineup for six straight games, had his back lock up again and departed in the seventh inning. The Mets plan to make a DL decision before Saturday’s game regarding Duda. If he does land on the DL, that would spare Michael Conforto a demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas. Either way, left-handed reliever Dario Alvarez is due to join the Mets on Saturday to bolster the bullpen. Read more in the Post and Newsday.

  • Bartolo Colon was struck in the right forearm while squaring to bunt in the second inning. X-rays were negative, but the injured area significantly swelled. Colon was ineffective on the mound, allowing three homers and getting charged with seven runs in 3 2/3 innings.

  • David Wright went 3-for-4 and played a full game at third base on Friday for Class A St. Lucie. He is due to make his final rehab appearance with the Florida State League club on Saturday. He will be activated from the DL on Monday in Philadelphia. Wright is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with St. Lucie, although all the hits have been singles. Read more in the Record and Daily News.

  • Tim Rohan in the Times writes a feature on Jacob deGrom, who says he may significantly trim his signature hair after the season.

  • Anthony Rieber in Newsday considers the postseason rotation, including whether Steven Matz or Syndergaard would be a candidate to wind up in the bullpen. Matz’s final rehab start had been penciled in for Double-A Binghamton on Tuesday, but that may be revised because the rookie left-hander did not feel sharp in his last outing with Class A St. Lucie.

  • SNY is nearing an agreement to move its studios and operations from midtown to 4 World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, Bloomberg Business reports.

  • Travis Taijeron had three homers and Las Vegas beat Omaha, 8-3. Kevin Plawecki departed the game after getting hit by a pitch in the left wrist, but appears OK. Jonathan Galvez had three RBIs as Binghamton beat New Hampshire, 9-5. Chris Flexen tossed eight scoreless innings and Savannah extended its winning streak to 17 games with a 5-0 victory against Kannapolis. Dash Winningham had a tiebreaking RBI triple in the ninth as Kingsport beat Bluefield, 3-2. Read the full minor league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Darrin Jackson turns 52.

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YOU’RE UP: Are you shocked the Nationals are under .500?