Beltrans 1st homer lifts Mets

April 16, 2008 7:27:10 PM PDT
Carlos Beltran hit his first homer of the season, a three-run shot in a four-run fifth inning, to back John Maine's solid start and lead the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 5-2 on Wednesday night.Jose Reyes also connected for the first time and Ryan Church hit his second home run to help New York hand the anemic Nationals their 11th loss in 12 games.

Maine earned his first win with support from a bullpen that spoiled his stellar effort April 10 against the Phillies. After he walked two with two outs in the seventh inning Wednesday, Joe Smith got No. 3 hitter Ryan Zimmerman on a called third strike.

In his previous start, Maine (1-1) took a 3-0 lead into the seventh but Aaron Heilman squandered the lead in the eighth.

Smith hit Lastings Milledge in the right forearm with a pitch in the eighth, which induced a vulgar chant from the Shea Stadium crowd as the former Mets prospect cringed in pain while being attended to by a Nationals trainer and manager Manny Acta.

Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his second save, finishing the five-hitter.

Austin Kearns homered for Washington.

Looking to build on an eight-inning, one-run outing against Atlanta on Friday, Matt Chico stymied the New York bats through the first four innings. Wildly effective, he gave up Church's homer in the first and two singles to Luis Castillo before allowing Reyes' tying homer leading off the fifth.

Church then singled and David Wright hit a fading liner to center that Milledge tried to make a diving catch on, but the ball bounced out of his glove for a single when he hit the grass. Beltran hit a drive into the left-field bleachers for a 5-2 lead, his first home run in 44 at-bats this season.

Chico (0-3) struck out two of the next three but did not come out for the sixth. He gave up five runs and five hits, walking three and striking out five.

In an effort to jump-start the inert Washington offense, Acta moved .200-hitting Ronnie Belliard into the second spot from eighth, where he batted Tuesday, and put Milledge in the No. 5 spot after batting him second all season, saying he sees the speedy Milledge as a "run producer," not just a run scorer.

The move paid off immediately. After Cristian Guzman walked leading off, Belliard moved him to third with a hit-and-run single to right, and Guzman scored on a sacrifice fly by Zimmerman.

Kearns' first homer made it 2-1 Washington in the fourth.


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