Pete Alonso of the Mets celebrates his sixth-inning home run against the...

Pete Alonso of the Mets celebrates his sixth-inning home run against the Nationals with teammate Jeff McNeil at Citi Field on Friday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

After three intense games and two wins against the team with the best record in baseball (the Dodgers), the Mets entered the cakewalk portion of their schedule on Friday night with a visit from the team with the worst record (the Nationals).

Washington put up a fight — for a while, anyway. The score was tied when Pete Alonso led off the sixth inning with a home run to left. The Mets went on to score four runs in the inning en route to a 7-3 victory before 33,630 at Citi Field.

Alonso’s 32nd home run, a high 375-foot blast, came off Washington starter Josiah Gray and snapped a 3-3 tie.

The Mets (85-48) knocked out Gray two batters later and scored three more runs on Eduardo Escobar’s sacrifice fly, Tomas Nido’s single and Brandon Nimmo’s triple, all off reliever Steve Cishek.

The Mets didn’t play a perfect game — they made two errors and had two runners thrown out on the bases during sacrifice flies — but they improved to 11-3 vs. Washington. The Mets have outscored the Nationals 82-40.

“You always have little moments where you get kind of a pulse of your club,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Advance meeting today, everybody’s engaged. Locked and loaded.”

The Mets went into Friday with the easiest remaining schedule in baseball, with their opponents having a .422 winning percentage.

 

They need to keep winning because Atlanta keeps winning. The defending World Series champions beat Miami, 8-1, to remain three games behind the NL East-leading Mets.

“The games are dwindling. You’re under 30 [29] now,” Showalter said. “There’s always been a sense of urgency with these guys since the first day of spring, the things they wanted to accomplish. So it doesn’t surprise me that they’re continuing to be engaged in the competition.”

The Mets jumped on Gray (7-9) early, with Escobar hitting a two-run homer in the second for a 2-0 lead.

“It really feels good to have a game like that,” he said through an interpreter, “and to continue to win.”

The Nationals got a run back in the third when Nido threw a ball into leftfield for an error while trying to pick off Victor Robles at third base.

Nido’s fourth-inning sacrifice fly made it 3-1. Jeff McNeil was thrown out between second and third base as he tried to advance on the ball hit to center. McNeil simply stopped once he realized he was going to be out; that way, Daniel Vogelbach was assured of scoring the run before McNeil was tagged out.

Mark Canha also was thrown out on the bases on a sacrifice fly. He was nailed at second on Escobar’s run-scoring fly ball to right in the sixth.

Mets starter David Peterson allowed three runs in 5 1⁄3 innings. Ildemaro Vargas tied the score with a double in the sixth, knocking out Peterson.

Mychal Givens (7-3) replaced Peterson and pitched 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings for the victory. Seth Lugo worked around Escobar’s error and a two-out single by Luke Voit to close it out.

Showalter said he was not planning to use Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino or Trevor May on Friday. He didn’t need to.

After this series, the Mets will visit Pittsburgh and then Miami. They won’t face a team with a winning record until a trip to Milwaukee on Sept. 19.

By then, Peterson might be a reliever. Carlos Carrasco is returning from the injured list on Sunday to give the Mets a full five-man rotation.

“I don’t have any information on that,” Peterson said. “Process this one and see what I can do to get better . . . then talk to Buck and [pitching coach Jeremy Hef-ner] and see what the plan is.”