It wasn't easy, or very pretty, but the Washington Nationals rode three innings of scoreless relief from Tyler Clipaprd, and a career day from journeyman outfielder Willy Taveras, to beat the New York Mets 4-3 before a chilly, but sun-drenched Citifield crowd of 33,044.

The win raises the Nats record to 2-3 for the 2010 season.

Following the old Yogi Berra-ism, "It's ain't over till it's over," the Nats didn't have this one in the win column until a sinking line drive off the bat of the New York Mets' Rod Barajas nestled safely in the glove of left fielder Willie Harris for the third out in the ninth inning.

Harris dove headfirst back toward the infield to snag the quickly sinking liner, reminiscent of the diving catch he made last season to rob the Mets of an early season win.

The heroics were necessary because closer Matt Capps (S, 2) struggled again, loaded the bases on a single and two walks.

The game was full of heroes, though.

The pitching hero was Tyler Clippard, who relieved starter John Lannan (W, 1-1, 8.31) and threw three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and no walks, striking out seven of his nine outs.

Clippard mixed his low-90s fastball with a devestating change-up and hard-breaking slider to confound the Mets hitters.  Clippard's slider was the key to his performance.  Usually his change-up is his best pitch, and hitters will attack his fastball, but the slider gives him another weapon in his arsenal to keep hitters off his fastball.

Clippard's day was so good, he also singled against reliever Ryota Igarashi when left to hit for himself in the seventh inning.

Lannan went five innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits and three walks, striking out two.  He was not sharp, as he nibbled around the strike zone all day--though he was not helped much by home plate umpire Daryl Cousins.

Lannan gout out of a tough jam in the third.  Alex Cora reached on an infield single that third baseman Ryan Zimemrman couldn't come up with, David Wright walked, and Jason Bay reached on Ian Desmond's third fielding error of the season.

Lannan bore down though, and got Jeff Francoeur to tap a ball just in front of home plate, where Ivan Rodriguez completed the 2-3 double play, then coaxed a ground ball from Gary Matthews to end the inning.

Today's batting hero was as unlikely a source as you could find.

Willy Taveras, who hit .240/.275/.285 last season for Cincinnati--including .219 against left-handers, went 2-for-4 with a triple and a career-high four RBIs, pacing the Nats' offense against Oliver Perez (L, 0-1, 6.35) and a trio of Mets relief pitchers.

Taveras tripled in the first inning, scoring Josh Willingham and Rodriguez, and hit a two-run single in the fourth, both off Perez.

So the Nats, looking for heroes, found three today in the forms of their utility player, middle reliever and fifth outfielder. 

But they'll take heroes anywhere they can find them.

Tomorrow in the series finale, Livan Hernandez will make his first start of the season against Mets ace Johan Santana (1-0, 1.50) at 1:10 pm.

NATS NOTES:  Ryan Zimmerman left the game in the late innings due to a strained left hamstring.  In his post-game interview, manager Jim Riggleman hinted that Cristian Guzman might make his regular season debut at third base tomorrow filling in for Zimmerman.

Despite the win, the Nats were outhit 8-5. 

Both teams made two errors.  Desmond made his third of the season when he booted a routine grounder that could have been a double play, and Adam Dunn misplayed a grounder at first for his first error of the season.

The Nats first four hitters in the lineup went a combined 0-for-16 with one walk and five strikeouts.