NEW YORK -- The two baseballs on the shelf atop Michael Taylor's locker and the constantly vibrating phone on the bottom shelf served as visual and auditory reminders Tuesday night of an unforgettable first game in the major leagues for the Washington Nationals right fielder.
Taylor singled in his first career at-bat and hit a two-run homer in the sixth to cap a five-run inning by the Nationals, who cruised past the New York Mets 7-1 at Citi Field.
"Definitely better than I imagined," Taylor said. "I was just trying to get a knock out there and put the ball in play. To have the home run was pretty special for me."
The 23-year-old Taylor, whom the Nationals selected in the sixth round of the 2009 draft, was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday and started Tuesday in place of Jayson Werth, who missed a fourth straight start due to a sore right shoulder.
Taylor admitted he was nervous before the game and that he "was kind of numb out there" after singling up the middle in the second inning. With his first hit under his belt, though, Taylor relaxed and was able to savor his opposite-field homer four innings later.
"That (single) definitely kind of slowed it down a little later," Taylor said. "Was able to enjoy it a little more."
Those in the Nationals' dugout enjoyed Taylor's two-hit debut, as well.
"Everybody on the bench was really excited on the first base hit -- and then the homer, they were even more excited," Nationals manager Matt Williams said "Great for the kid. Certainly a memory he'll remember forever."
Taylor didn't know until he arrived at his locker that the milestone baseballs had been retrieved for him. The ball he hit into a standing-room-only section behind the right-field fence was tossed back on to the field.
Nor did he know how many people called or texted their congratulations -- though his locker room neighbor, right-handed pitcher Drew Storen, said he was in the clubhouse for Taylor's first hit and that the phone immediately started buzzing.
"It just keeps vibrating," Taylor said.
Taylor's homer was the fourth of the game for the Nationals, tying a season high set twice earlier. Left fielder Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer in the second. In the sixth, third baseman Anthony Rendon hit a leadoff homer before shortstop Ian Desmond laced a two-run blast two batters later.
The three-homer inning was the first for the Nationals since Sept. 5, 2012.
The homers provided plenty of cushion for Nationals right-hander Doug Fister, who scattered seven hits over seven shutout innings. He is 12-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 17 starts this year, including 3-1 with a 0.64 ERA in his last four starts.
"Our offense came out and just opened things up early," Fister said. "Our defense was right on par tonight."
Fister walked none, struck out four and held the Mets hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position.
"Doug throws what he wants when he wants and where he wants," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "When you're looking at our lineup four through nine, they're all pretty young -- he can carve you up."
The win by the Nationals (64-53), coupled with Atlanta's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, increased Washington's lead in the NL East to a season-high five games.
Second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera went 3-for-4, his first three-hit game since the Nationals acquired him from Cleveland on July 31. Harper, Taylor and catcher Wilson Ramos all had two hits apiece.
The Mets (57-63) scored their lone run in the eighth, when they loaded the bases with none out against left-hander Ross Detwiler but could only muster a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Eric Campbell.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy, third baseman David Wright and shortstop Wilmer Flores all had two singles each for the Mets.
Mets right-hander Rafael Montero (0-3) gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out four over five innings.
NOTES: The game was delayed by rain for 25 minutes in the top of the third. ... Mets RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (right elbow inflammation) began a rehab assignment Monday, when he threw three scoreless innings for Class A St. Lucie. He will start next for Double-A Binghamton on Saturday. ... GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets might ask RHP Matt Harvey (Tommy John surgery) to limit his 2014 activity to bullpen sessions after fellow RHP Jeremy Hefner, who also underwent Tommy John surgery last year, re-tore his right elbow in a rehab start last Wednesday. ... Nationals RF Jayson Werth underwent an MRI exam Tuesday. Manager Matt Williams said the team would have the results Wednesday. ... Nationals CF Denard Span went 0-for-5. He reached base in each of his previous 36 games, the second-longest streak since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005.