Mets beat Nats, expand NL East lead

September 10, 2008 9:49:32 PM PDT
David Wright had an assortment of hits to choose from Wednesday night. There was the long two-run homer in the eighth inning. A sharp double down the left-field line in the first. A leadoff hit in the go-ahead seventh. Nope. None of those worked for him as the hit that might be the elixir for solving his hitting woes.

Wright preferred the run-scoring blooper, a jammed shot to center in the third for his breakthrough at-bat in the New York Mets' 13-10 win over the pesky Washington Nationals after blowing a six-run lead.

"The at-bat that I drove in the run wasn't necessarily a great at-bat ... but you get the results. All of a sudden you get it in your head that you can relax a little bit," said Wright, who came in hitting .214 (6-for-28) for the month. "One of the biggest problems I've had with runners in scoring position is that it's been in my head that I'm putting too much pressure on myself."

Wright, who scored four runs, has worked hard the past few days in the cage, and on the field Tuesday, taking extra batting practice to work out his struggles, which he said was due to poor timing on his swing.

Well, his timing is back and the Mets couldn't have benefited more on the second straight night New York's starting pitcher - this time, Mike Pelfrey - couldn't hold down the lowly Nationals.

"The way that we continue to fight, continue to add on I think this is what championship teams are made out of," Wright said.

The NL East-leading Mets swept the two-game series against Washington and moved 3½ games ahead of Philadelphia.

The Mets rode Carlos Delgado's second straight multihomer game Tuesday night for a 10-8 victory after blowing two leads. On Wednesday, Delgado hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, Carlos Beltran had three hits and Jose Reyes swiped a bag to became the Mets career leader for steals.

"I'll tell you what was good about the game was I felt we were going to continue to score," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "There have been times during the year where I felt we wouldn't come back."

The Mets began their embarrassing collapse at this point last year, wasting a seven-game lead in the division with 17 games to go. They have 17 games left after this victory over the Nationals, who won five of six against New York down the stretch last year to contribute to its fall.

"I don't think anybody in here is thinking about what happened last year," Wright said. "I just think we're going out and finding ways to win. Last year ... It seemed like everything went wrong. This year when a part of the game goes awry for a day or two another part of the game steps up and gets the job done and that's the big difference."

Delgado's sinking liner scored Wright and gave New York an 8-7 lead. Brian Schneider added had a two-run single off Saul Rivera (5-6) in the inning.

"This happens. We got a lot of runs. (Enough) to win, but they have a lot of good hitters over there," said Cristian Guzman, who homered twice and finished with five RBIs for Washington, which became the first team in the majors to lose 90 games.

Guzman's three-run drive in the eighth ended Brian Stokes' 12-inning scoreless streak and cut it to 11-10 but Wright went deep in the eighth to give New York some room.

Luis Ayala got three outs for his seventh save in eight chances.

The Mets blew a 7-1 lead, but Joe Smith stopped the surging Nats for the second straight night to give the Mets a chance.

Smith (5-3) entered after Aaron Heilman allowed a tying two-run homer to Guzman and pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings.

After the game Manuel said Heilman has been pitching with an injured knee all season. Heilman said he's had tendinitis in his left knee since spring training but it has only affected his pitching on a handful of occasions.

Reyes singled and swiped second in the third inning for his franchise-record 282nd steal, passing Mookie Wilson in only his fourth full season. Reyes then stole third for No. 49 this year and scored his 100th run on Wright's base hit off Odalis Perez for the first of six runs in the inning to go up 7-1.

On the first pitch of the fourth, Pelfrey threw belt-high and inside to Elijah Dukes, who homered over the left-field bleachers in the second. Dukes took several steps toward the pitcher's mound and shouted at Pelfrey. Catcher Schneider and plate umpire Doug Eddings stepped in front of Dukes as Pelfrey raised his hands, questioning Dukes' actions.

After a brief delay where Nationals manager Manny Acta and several coaches and on-deck hitter Kory Casto calmed Dukes down, both benches were warned. Dukes then singled and scored on Wil Nieves' hit to make it 7-2.

"Some people react different than other ones," Acta said of Duke. "It's very common after a homer to get pitched inside. ... I think we'll let it go at that."

In the fifth, Dukes was hit on the right forearm by a pitch from Pelfrey similar to the one that got him agitated an inning earlier. This time Dukes took a slow stroll to first.

Dukes ended his night by egging on the booing Mets fans by waving his arms and blowing a kiss to the crowd as he entered the dugout after grounding out in the ninth.

Notes: Mets closer Billy Wagner had elbow reconstruction surgery Wednesday in New York. ... Nationals catcher Jesus Flores jogged and threw for first time since spraining his left ankle in a collision at the plate with Philadelphia's Chase Utley on Sept. 2.