by Anthony Amobi, Staff Writer and Dave Nichols

Craig Stammen makes an early exit on Independence Day. (Photo by Anthony Amobi/Nats News Network)

There were tens of thousands of people in the District of Columbia on the Fourth of July to celebrate the birth of our nation.

For the 29,234 that collected along the banks of the Anacostia at Nationals Park, only the ones cheering the New York Mets left in a celebratory mood, as the visitors from New York got out to a big lead early and hung on, beating the Washington Nationals 9-5. The two teams split the four-game weekend set.

The Nats record fell to 36-47 on the season.

On a sweltering afternoon in the Nation’s Capital, the Nationals could not master a comeback against closer Francisco Rodriguez as they has twice before in this series. Really, the Nationals never got their bearings in place from the onset. 

While the Nats made things interesting during the middle innings of the game and then later in ninth inning, the early lead gave the Mets a comfortable cushion to work with.

Washington’s Craig Stammen (L, 2-3) put his team in a precarious situation from the beginning and never gave his team a chance to win. He only lasted 3 1/3 on Sunday and took the loss, giving up seven runs on eight hits, walking and striking out three. 

He gave up two runs in the first, one in the second and two more in the third.  In the fourth, he combined with releiver Migeul Batista to give up another three.

Stammen delivers against the Mets. (Photo by Anthony Amobi/Nats News Network)

The right-hander was not the same guy who pitched in Atlanta last week after being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. He looked very much off, wasn’t sharp, couldn’t get his pitches over and got hit hard.

On the other hand, New York’s Hisanori Takahasi (7-3) got the win as he cruised through the first five of his innings on the mound before running into trouble in the sixth. He lasted five innings and gave up three runs, five hits, and struck out seven.

New York’s Francisco Rodriguez earned his 20th save by ending a Nationals’ rally in the ninth inning.

The offense for Washington showed some signs of life as Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-5 and hit his 14th homer of the season. Cristian Guzman had three hits as well, and Josh Willingham had two.

Nats celebrate Zimmerman's home run. (Photo by Anthony Amobi/Nats News Network)

The Mets took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning off Stammen thanks to a two-run triple and then scored another run in the second inning off an Angel Pagan RBI-single.

Ike Davis increased the Mets’ lead to 5-0 in the third inning with a two-run homer – his 10th. New York, in the fourth inning, increased their lead to 8-0 as Bay struck again with a two-run single and Jeff Francoeur plated a run with a RBI-double.

David Wright scores for the Mets against the Nats. (Photo by Anthony Amobi/Nats News Network)

By the sixth inning, the Nationals started to chip away at the Mets’ lead. They were finally able to get to Takahashi as he gave up a walk to Nyjer Morgan and a single to Cristian Guzman before Ryan Zimmerman took him deep with a three run-homer.

The Nationals rallied further and knocked Takahashi out of the game – he was replaced by reliever Elmer Dessens – and were able to load up the bases with no outs in the frame; however, Dessens struck out Adam Kennedy and were able to induce a double play off of Wil Nieves’ bat.

The Mets made the score 9-3 off an Pagan RBI-single in seventh inning, but the Nationals added another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI-single by Ryan Zimmerman,

Washington came within four, 9-5, in the eighth inning as Nieves plated in Kennedy with an RBI-single.

Nieves drives in Adam Kennedy. (Photo by Anthony Amobi/Nats News Network)

If there were any positives to take out of Sunday’s loss, Tyler Clippard bounced back from some horrendous outings the past few times out on the mound. He went 1 1/3 innings, struck out three and didn’t allow a hit.

THE GOOD:  Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs.  Cristian Guzman went 3-for-4.

THE BAD:  Adam Dunn went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts and three runners left on base.

THE UGLY:  Stammen. The sequence where Stammen walked the No. 8 hitter with one out, then had to leadoff man drive that run in is why he remains on the fringe between Major League regular and Triple-A. Already trailing 2-1, it's inexcusable to walk the No. 8 hitter in front of the pitcher.

THE STATS:  The Nats went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position, leaving 10 on base.  They struck out 12 times and walked just twice.  One of the walks was Stammen's only plate appearance.

NEXT GAME:  Tuesday, July 6 vs San Diego.  RHP Livan Hernandez (6-4) v. LHP Clayton Richard (6-4).

NOTES:  Before the game, MLB announced the 2010 All-Star representitives.  The Nationals rep will be closer Matt Capps.  Capps will make his first All-Star appearance.  He is 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA and 22 saves in 36 2/3 innings and 32 K’s.  He was voted onto the team by the players.  "It says that peers and people who see you and are around you all the time think enough of you to think you're one of the best in the league at this time," Capps said