WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper swung at the 91 mph pitch in the bottom of the 13th inning and could tell right away the ball would end up over the fence. "I knew it was gone. I mean, I felt it," the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year said. "I havent felt like that in a while. I havent got extension on a ball in a pretty long time." Harpers fourth homer of an injury-interrupted, trying season was a game-ending, two-run shot to the opposite field off righty reliever Carlos Torres, lifting Washington past the New York Mets 5-3 Thursday and giving the Nationals a season-high 4 1/2-game lead in the NL East. "Wanted to put a two-seamer down and away," said Torres (5-5), who struck out Harper on Wednesday. "It didnt move that much, unfortunately." Harper was hitting .250 with 14 RBIs in 2014 entering Thursday, with zero homers since July 18. "Hopefully he rides that for the next couple months and (we) sail off into the sunset," said Ian Desmond, who walked ahead of Harpers homer. Desmond drove in Washingtons first three runs with a two-run homer in the second inning, his 18th, and an RBI single in the fourth -- both off Mets starter Jacob deGrom. So can one swing change things for Harper? "In my mind, Im hoping so. Definitely," he said. Harper missed 57 games because of a torn ligament in his left thumb, returning June 30. He immediately caused a stir that day by publicly offering suggestions for how Williams should arrange his lineup. This week, the morning after Harper went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in a loss to the Mets on Tuesday, Williams was asked on radio station 106.7 The Fan whether it would be a bad idea to send Harper to the minors. When a reporter followed up during Williams pregame news conference Wednesday, the manager vented, saying: "The minute you think you can read my freaking mind, youre sorely mistaken." At the end of his postgame session with reporters Thursday, Williams offered an unprompted mea culpa, saying: "I didnt sleep much last night. So I just wanted to apologize to members of the press for my actions yesterday." The Nationals now head into a three-game series beginning Friday at the reeling second-place Atlanta Braves. Atlanta was off Thursday after an 0-8 road trip against the Dodgers, Padres and Mariners. "Theyre going to want our throat," Harper said. Said Craig Stammen (2-4), who worked three scoreless innings for the win Thursday: "We know these three games will be big because theyre right on our tails." He was Washingtons seventh pitcher. The Mets used eight. Closer Jenrry Mejia left after giving up two hits in his only inning of work, the 12th, and said afterward his right calf was "just a little bit tight." Hours after he left the mound following his 6 1-3 innings of work, Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann was thrilled with the way Harper ended the game. "Were all pulling for him," Zimmermann said. "Hopefully he gets out of this little rut hes in." TRAINERS ROOM Mets: About Mejia, whose right calf was taped up after the game, manager Terry Collins said: "Well find out more tomorrow. If its still bothering him, he certainly wont pitch tomorrow." Nationals: Reserve outfielder Nate McLouth (15-day DL, right shoulder) got an anti-inflammatory injection and was "shut down for a few days to get everything calmed down in there," Williams said. UP NEXT Nationals: Stephen Strasburg (8-9, 3.39 ERA) faces Atlantas Ervin Santana (10-6, 3.59 ERA) in Fridays opener at Atlanta. In 14 career starts against the Braves, Strasburg is 3-5 with a 4.04 ERA, his highest ERA against any team hes faced more than three times. Mets: In the opener of a four-game set at the Phillies, 41-year-old righty Bartolo Colon (10-9, 4.12 ERA) makes his second attempt at career victory No. 200. Air Force 1 Just Do It Norge .C. Now hes squarely in the U.S. capital and helping the Washington Wizards playoff drive. John Wall scored 33 points, Gooden got 11 of his 21 in the final quarter and the Wizards overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 101-94 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night. Air Force 1 Dame Norge . -- Albert Pujols is thrilled to have a reason to forget about his first two disappointing seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. http://www.airforce1norge.com/.The Canadian teenage golf sensation announced Thursday shell join the LPGA Tour in 2015 instead of attending the University of Florida. Air Force 1 Dame Norge . Rinne had surgery on his left hip May 9 and recovered in time to start the season. He then had arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 24 because of a bacterial infection in his hip. Air Force 1 Herre Norge . The 30-year-old Kottaras served as Kansas Citys backup catcher last season after being claimed off waivers from Oakland in January.KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Lauren Davis defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-2, 6-3 at the Sony Open on Wednesday as former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro withdrew with a left wrist injury. The 20-year-old Davis started 2014 ranked No. 72 and moved up to No. 55. From 1-1 in the first set, Davis jumped ahead to a 4-1 lead. In the second set, Zhang started with a 3-1 lead, but Davis won the next five games to take the match. "Im playing really well and I have a lot of confidence," Davis said. "I think theres a time for everything and I feel like this is my time." Fellow American Christina McHale defeated Zheng Jie of China 6-4, 6-2. Wildcard recipient Victoria Duval didnt fare as well as her fellow Ammericans, losing to Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens 7-6 (5), 6-1.dddddddddddd Del Potro has been troubled by his left wrist since winning the Sydney title at the beginning of the year. At the recent Indian Wells tournament he played one doubles match, but then withdrew from the singles. The 37th-ranked Andrea Petkovic of Germany, a top 10 player in 2011, posted a 6-3, 6-4 win over Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor of Spain. In first round mens action, 80th-ranked Adrian Mannarino of France ousted 71st-ranked Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-4, 7-5. Czech Radek Stepanek defeated Daniel Brands of Germany 6-3, 6-0. Ivo Karlovic of Croatia claimed up a tough 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) win over French qualifier Paul-Henri Matthieu. ' ' '