NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Taylor's parents planned to come see him this weekend, so they missed his smashing start. At least the rookie had a keepsake to show them — barely.
Taylor homered in his big league debut, setting off a silly sequence to retrieve the prize, and the Washington Nationals backed Doug Fister with four long shots Tuesday night in a 7-1 romp over the New York Mets.
"Definitely better than I imagined," Taylor said, his cell phone buzzing every few seconds with happy messages.
Bryce Harper homered early, then Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond and Taylor connected in the sixth inning as the NL East leaders won their ninth straight at Citi Field.
Promoted from Triple-A over the weekend, Taylor singled in his first at-bat and later hit a two-run drive the opposite way at one of the majors' most spacious parks.
A ball boy ran out to right field to pick up Taylor's home run ball, but mistakenly tossed it to a young fan in the stands. Alerted to his error, the ball boy and a couple of security guards quickly worked out a trade of another ball to reclaim the prize.
Taylor said he heard about the scramble, but didn't see it. He admitted he was "kind of numb" standing at first base after his first hit, and was "just trying to breathe and relax and enjoy it" after his home run.
Taylor finished 2 for 4. The 23-year-old outfielder hit a combined .315 with 22 homers and 35 stolen bases in the minors this season, almost all of it at Double-A.
Taylor got to start while star outfielder Jayson Werth got an MRI on his aching right shoulder. The team didn't have the results on that exam right after the game.
Fister (12-3) came back from a 25-minute rain delay and pitched seven shutout innings. He gave up seven hits, walked none and struck out three. Fister also hit a single for good measure after a 1-for-30 start at the plate this year.
"Doug throws what he wants when he wants and where he wants," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "When you go up there, especially when you're looking at our lineup four through nine, they're all pretty young, and he can carve you up and he does."
Fister sounded more excited about Taylor's performance than his own.
"He'll always remember Day 1," the veteran pitcher said, adding, "as a young guy, you've got to rag him a little bit."
Fister was on deck when Taylor homered. As Taylor passed by on the way back to the dugout, Fister wisecracked to him: "Oh, it's that easy, huh?"
Asdrubal Cabrera hit two doubles and a single as the Nationals improved to 23-4 at Citi Field dating to 2011. The only Washington starter who didn't get on base was leadoff man Denard Span, ending his 14-game hitting streak and his string of reaching safely at 36 games.
Rafael Montero (0-3) was tagged for three homers and five runs in five-plus innings. He was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the day after impressive rookie Jacob deGrom went on the disabled list with rotator cuff tendinitis.
Mets star David Wright singled twice, giving him an 11-game hitting streak.
Nationals: Manager Matt Williams said Werth's shoulder was "inflamed and sore," yet added, "I don't think it's a DL situation."
Fresh off his 200th career win, Mets RHP Bartolo Colon (11-9, 3.97) starts Wednesday night vs. Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-5, 3.06). Ian Desmond has tagged Colon, going 3 for 6 with two homers lifetime against him. Zimmermann is 1-1 in his last six starts.
Desmond hit his 20th home run, the third straight year he's reached the mark. He connected as the Nats hit three homers in an inning for the first time since Sept. 5, 2012.
Williams led the majors with 43 homers for the Giants on Aug. 12, 1994, when a players' strike started and wound up wiping out the rest of the season and the World Series. Williams was on a pace for nearly 61 home runs, which would've matched the then-record held by Roger Maris. Williams said the strike was painful at the time, but that the effects helped benefit the game in later years. As for his own chance at history, "To say I felt like I had a lost season isn't accurate," Williams said. So, does he think he would've reached 61? "I don't think so," he said. "No way."