NEW YORK - Even before Matt Harvey escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam to preserve a late lead, fans at Citi Field told Stephen Strasburg which pitcher they preferred.
"Harvey's better!" they chanted, over and over.
He was on this Friday night. Harvey outdid Strasburg in a marquee matchup of young aces, amping up while the crowd cheered his name and leading the New York Mets over the Washington Nationals 7-1.
"It was nice," Harvey said, "but we've got a long way to go."
Ike Davis and Lucas Duda each hit two home runs, providing an ample cushion for Harvey and the Mets to end their three-game skid.
Harvey and Strasburg paired off for the first time in their careers, with many projecting the celebrated 24-year-olds will duel far into the future. Harvey (4-0) was equal to the challenge and started out fast, striking out leadoff man Denard Span with 98 mph heat.
"I came out a little too pumped up," he said.
Davis and Duda hit solo home runs in the sixth - the first time Strasburg (1-3) ever had been tagged twice in an inning - for a 4-0 lead. The 26,675 fans at Citi Field broke into the "Harvey's better!" chants that bounced around the ballpark.
"There's going to be a lot of years you're going to talk about this guy," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Davis added a two-run homer in the eighth and Duda hit a solo drive off Drew Storen.
Harvey gave up one run and four hits in seven innings, striking out seven. He's been so dominant, his ERA actually went up, from 0.82 to 0.93.
Strasburg allowed four runs, two unearned, and five hits in six innings. He fanned six, flinging fastballs in the upper 90s.
As for what Strasburg thought of Harvey: "He's got good stuff. He's pounding the strike zone. It's still early, obviously, a lot of our guys haven't really faced him that much."