Bergmann Outduels Pelfrey, Mets 1-0

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, May 15, 2008 | , , , , , | 0 comments »

New York, NY--In a classic pitcher's duel under the partly sunny skies in the old stadium in Queens, the Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 1-0, taking three out of four against their division foes in what is rapidly becoming an intense rivalry.

Both starting pitchers, Jason Bergmann for the Nats and Mike Pelfrey for the Mets, were very sharp all afternoon. Bergmann (W, 1-1, 7.45), making his first start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus to make the start, went seven innings and surrendered just three hits and two walks, striking out nine Mets batters. Pelfrey (L, 2-4, 4.17) carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning but the Nats caught up to him for a scratch run in the eighth. His final line read seven and two-thirds innings, one earned run, three hits, three walks and four strikeouts. Luis Ayala pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief of Bergmann and Jon Rauch held on in the ninth despite some drama for his ninth save.

The lone run came in the top of the eighth and made a winner out of Bergmann. Catcher Jesus Flores led off against Pelfrey and doubled to deep left field, one of the few hard hit balls all day. Willie Harris pinch-hit for Bergmann and sacrificed Flores over to third. Shortstop Felipe Lopez then lofted a fly ball deep enough to left field to allow Flores to carry home the only run the Nats would need on this day.

Bergmann looked to be still very strong in the seventh, as he struck out the bottom of the Mets order in succession, but was lifted for the pinch-hitter as the situation dictated he should, and the plan worked to the Nats advantage. Matt Wise took the ball from Pelfrey and ended the inning without any more damage, striking out Ryan Zimmerman to limit the damage.

The late innings featured some bizarre and ill-advised base-running gaffes by the Mets that would seal their fate. In the eighth inning, with Luis Ayala (1-3, 5.62) on the hill for the Nats, all-star shortstop Jose Reyes led off for the Mets with a bunt single. Second baseman Luis Castillo sacrificed and was thrown out by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

But Reyes wasn't happy with just being advanced to second. He inexplicably tried to take third on the play since Zimmerman was out of position after making the throw to get Castillo. Shortstop Cristian Guzman, however, noticed and raced to third to take the throw by Aaron Boone -- colliding with Reyes as they met at the bag -- and completed the third-to-first-to short covering third double play. David Wright popped out unceremoniously to end the inning.

In the ninth, still more blundering on the base paths cost the Mets again. Carlos Beltran led off against closer Jon Rauch (2-0, 8 saves, 2.61) with a single to right field. The next batter, Ryan Church, smacked a high fly ball down the left field line that Willie Harris laid out for and caught, sure to make the highlight reels on the eleven o'clock news.

Beltran promptly thereafter stole second and took third on a throwing error by Flores. With the count at 1-2, Mets struggling first baseman Carlos Delgado ripped a low line drive to first that Boone snared -- and he fired to third to catch Beltran napping for the game-ending double play.

The Nationals travel to Baltimore Friday for a three-game series entitled "Battle of the Beltways", as interleague geographic rivals weekend commences. Shawn Hill (0-0, 3.56) is scheduled to face rookie Garrett Olson (2-0, 2.95) for the Orioles.

NATS NOTES: With the victory, the Nats records moves to 18-24. They are currently six games behind first place Florida, who plays tonight in Cincinnati.

First baseman Nick Johnson will miss four to six weeks, as an MRI Thursday morning revealed a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, an injury sustained in his last at bat Tuesday evening. The team expects to activate Dmitri Young from the disabled list for the weekend series.

According to Manager Manny Acta, Young will see the bulk of time at first base, with Aaron Boone getting some starts, especially during interleague play. Young completed his rehab stint in Double-A Harrisburg in Thursday afternoon's game for the Senators, going 1-for-3, leaving his average during his rehab stint at .375.

Bergmann Outduels Pelfrey, Mets 1-0 also posted at DC Sports Box

Photo (c) C. Nichols 2008