"It's satisfying because I came out and did my job." -- Craig Stammen, July 22, 2009.

THE RESULT: Another strong performance from one of the 'kid starters', and a power display from a veteran outfielder who may -- or may not -- be on the trading block, led the Washington Nationals to their first two-game winning streak since Independence Day, as they defeated the New York Mets 3-1 before 23,583 joyous Nats fans.

Craig Stammen (W, 3-5, 4.24) went seven and one-third innings, giving up just one earned run on four hits and two walks, striking out five. He threw 92 pitches, 52 for strikes. He induced 11 ground ball outs against just six fly balls.

Of those six fly balls, each of the outfielders made at least one nice catch that had the collective fan base holding their breath until the balls were secure in the fielder's mitts. Adam Dunn made perhaps the nicest catch, going hard down the line in the eighth inning to take a hit -- and possible RBI -- away from Daniel Murphy.

Josh Willingham provided the fireworks. The right fielder went 4-for-4 with a two-run home run in the sixth inning, a single and a pair of doubles.

Interim manager Jim Riggleman pulled all the right strings at the end of the game, and each reliever he called upon did his job. After Stammen gave up a double to Jeremy Reed and walked Angel Pagan with one out in the eighth inning, Riggleman went and got his starter.

Stammen was as every bit in control of this game as John Lannan was in his shut out last night until that last walk. The Nats interim skipper called on Jason Bergmann to face Fernando Tatis, and the righty got Tatis to pop out to Nick Johnson just into foul territory.

Riggs then brought in Joe Beimel, who retired Murphy on the line drive to left that Dunn snared before crashing into the short wall in foul territory in the corner.

Mike MacDougal pitched an uneventful 1-2-3 ninth inning for his sixth save of the season.

THE TAKEAWAY: Stammen, who was not really in the Nationals plans at the beginning of the season, is really forcing the Nats' hand and proving that he, too, belongs in the starting rotation in the Major Leagues.

He's following the same game plan of Lannan, the staff "ace": work the corners, keep the ball down, don't let the hitters get square to the ball. His K rate has been as low as Lannan's as well, but he fooled five Mets tonight.

THE GOOD: Josh Willingham. If he's auditioning for a trade to a contender, he's doing a good job of it.

THE BAD: Cristian Guzman was 0-for-4 in the two-hole again, and threw away a relay throw, completely unnecessarily, that allowed the Mets only run of the night. It was his 13th error of the season.

THE UGLY: News after the game that Jordan Zimmermann, who was scheduled to start Thursday's makeup game against the St. Louis Cardinals, will be scratched and placed on the 15-day disabled list with "elbow discomfort".

"We really feel it's a situation we're being ultra-conservative with," Riggleman said in his post-game news conference. "If this were a playoff hunt situation there'd be no question about it, he'd be pitching."

For his part, Zimmermann said, "I could go out there tomorrow and pitch." The team already planned to limit Zimmermann's innings as the season grew into the late part of the season, so this is effectively three weeks off for the young hurler.

Collin Balester, 23, will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to start against the Cards. He was 7-9 with a 4.35 ERA at Sryacuse, but had a 3.38 ERA over his last 12 starts and was scheduled to pitch Thursday anyway.

NEXT GAME: Thursday at 7:05 pm, the Nats go for three-in-a-row! Balester faces Adam Wainwright (10-6, 3.01) for St. Louis.

Photos 2009 © David Nichols. All Rights Reserved.