Harvey, 26, struck out seven batters and allowed just one hit and one walk. He threw 51 strikes and retired the last seven hitters he faced.
The Mets' bullpen allowed five runs in the sixth inning, one in the seventh inning and five in the eighth en route to the team's fourth loss in five games.
“I always want to be out there and the last thing I want to do, especially in a close game like that, is come out,” said Harvey, who departed the game with a 1-0 lead in line for the win. “Unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but there’s still some baseball to play and I’ll be ready to go back out there.”
Added captain David Wright: "I think that we'd like to have Matt on the mound, but he wasn't. I guess we've got to deal with it."
In an attempt to keep around the doctor-recommended 180 innings for the season, the Mets intend to continue pitching Harvey, but he'll only be allowed to throw a few innings per start. He has now thrown 176 2/3 innings in his first full season since having Tommy John surgery in late 2013.
"There is no set pitch count," manager Terry Collins said before Sunday's game. "It's more of an innings thing. We'll see how it goes and make the determination when enough is enough. ... When he reaches the innings count, he's out, whether he has thrown 40 pitches or 85 pitches."
After the game, Collins was asked about the decision to pull Harvey in a one-run pitcher's duel after five innings.
"You don't want to know what I was thinking,"Collins said. "You might want to know, but I can't tell you."
Harvey is scheduled for two more starts this season.
"I want to be out there," Harvey said after Sunday's start, when asked about being removed from the game in the fifth inning. "I want to be out there more than anything. I know where I want to be, and that's on a mound, pitching for the Mets."
Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com
OK, so, then why didn't you keep pitching? Ugh. This is a mess. This situation last night is exactly what everyone feared, which is that Harvey's elbow would be put ahead of winning. He was cruising last night and - had this innings thing not been an issue - he absolutely would have been left in the game. The worst part is, based on Collins' quote, it doesn't seem like he and Harvey agree with what's going on here. Yet, he was pulled from the game. It reads like, if it was up to them, Harvey would have continued to pitch. So, if they're not down with this program, who is responsible? I assume it's Sandy Alderson. Because, if it isn't, it means Scott Boras is GM, I guess...
I understand that the bullpen needs to be better. Hansel Robles, Eric O'Flaherty, Carlos Torres and Tim Stauffer were awful. But, pulling Harvey was worse. There is nothing about this situation that feels right, especially as the Nationals continue to win and cut in to the Mets lead in the NL East. I'd probably feel different if the Mets were winning, if the rotation was pitching well and the Nationals were struggling. In that case, fine, rest Harvey. However, the Mets are struggling, they've lost four of their last five, their starting pitchers are in a slump and the Nationals have won seven of eight games. And yet, despite all that, despite losing three games in the standings, Harvey was only allowed to throw 77 pitches. I really, really hope the Mets don't end up regretting this...