WASHINGTON – David Wright raced around the bases, slid home ahead of Wilson Ramos' tag, made the "safe" sign toward the umpire and pumped his fist in celebration.
The New York Mets had broken away in a game their manager called the biggest of the season.
Yoenis Cespedes homered and doubled twice, Wright hit a go-ahead single and scored to cap a three-run seventh inning, and the Mets ended Washington's five-game winning streak, beating the Nationals 8-5 Monday to open a key NL East series.
"Throughout the last couple years, that emotion hasn't quite been there," said Wright, the team captain who spent most of this season on the disabled list. "You miss that emotion and that passion, and you get a chance to play in a game like this, that's a lot of fun."
Michael Conforto and Kelly Johnson also homered and Curtis Granderson doubled twice for the Mets, who increased their division lead to five games over the Nats with 25 remaining. New York last made the postseason in 2006.
Dario Alvarez (1-0), pitching in the majors for the first time this season, faced only one batter — Bryce Harper — and struck him out to get his first major league win. Five Mets relievers combined for 5⅔ scoreless innings in relief of Jonathan Niese. Jeurys Familia struck out the side for his 37th save.
Ramos hit a grand slam for Washington.
Nationals ace Max Scherzer allowed five runs over six innings on seven hits — three homers and four doubles. He's been tagged for 11 home runs in his past six starts. Scherzer also grounded out to end the bottom of the fifth after manager Matt Williams let him bat with runners on second and third.
"He's got pitches left," Williams said of the decision. "He's at 90 and he's got the lead. He's our No. 1 for a reason."