Mets Defeat Punchless Nats 7-2

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, April 24, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

Washington, DC--Tim Redding threw five decent innings and doubled in two runs for the Washington Nationals, but try as he might, he could not lead the Nats to victory over the New York Mets.

The top of the sixth inning--and lack of bullpen help--was what did the Nats in tonight, as it has on several occasions this season. With the score tied at two and Redding facing an elevated pitch count, Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran led off the inning with a single to right field, and Manager Manny Acta decided to turn to his bullpen instead of leaving his most reliable pitcher this season in to face successive left-handed batters. Ray King was called upon, and he did not get the job done.

The first batter he faced was Ryan Chruch, and Church squibbed a roller up the third base line that Nats' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman picked up cleanly, but in his hurry to first threw the ball away and down the right field line, allowing Beltran to come all the way around from first to break a 2-2 tie. The play was scored a hit with a throwing error allowing the runners to advance. After King got first baseman Carlos Delgado to pop out, he was left to face switch-hitter Angel Pagan.

Pagan nubbed one back to King, but King wheeled and threw low and in the dirt and Nats first baseman Nick Johnson couldn't scoop it. Pagan was awarded a single, another questionable call by the official scorer. Exploiting one of the Nats biggest weaknesses, Pagan then stole second and third in successive pitches, getting into scoring position with one out, which would prove costly. King got former Nat catcher Brian Schneider to ground out, but the run scored anyway extending the Mets lead to 5-2. After Mets pitcher Johan Santana doubled--his second of the game--King was sent to the showers, but it was much too late.

Redding deserved a better fate, as he went five innings plus, giving up three earned runs on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. He also was responsible for the Nats' offense on this beautiful spring evening, as he doubled to deep left center off Santana in the fourth inning driving in both Nats runs. With two outs, Wily Mo Pena and catcher Wil Nieves hit back-to-back singles, and Redding drilled the 1-0 offering to the warning track, missing a home run by mere feet. The Nats bats went silent the remainder of the game. The only other Nats to reach base after Redding's double were Aaron Boone, who drew a pinch-hit walk in the seventh inning but was quickly erased when second baseman Felipe Lopez grounded into a double play to end that inning, and Austin Kearns' lead-off walk in the ninth.

Adding insult to injury, the Mets scoring was capped when former Nats outfielder Ryan Church singled in two runs in the top of the ninth against Jesus Colome.

Santana scattered seven hits, but was firmly in control all evening--save for Redding's heroics at the plate. He allowed just those two runs, walking only one and striking out four.

The Nats face the Mets again Thursday evening, with Shawn Hill (0-0) making his second start of the season taking on Oliver Perez (2-0) at 7:10 pm.


NATS NOTES: Paid attendance was 32,780, the biggest crowd since opening day. Sales were bolstered by the beautiful weather and the opposition, as there was a considerable contingent rooting for the Mets.

The Mets ran on catcher Wil Nieves all night long, stealing four bases easily, including Pagan's steal of third.

Cristian Guzman continued his strong start, going 2-for-4 and raising his batting average to .312. Wily Mo Pena and Wil Nieves each added two singles as well.

The Nats three through six hitters tonight--Zimmerman, Johnson, Kearns and Lastings Milledge--were a combined 0-for-15 with one walk and four strikeouts on the night.

Mets Defeat Punchless Nats 7-2 also posted at DC Sports Box