NEW YORK (AP) David Wright hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to power a New York Mets’ starting lineup of seven rookies past the Washington Nationals 7-2 Saturday.
Raul Valdes outpitched Yunesky Maya in the first matchup of Cuban starters in seven years, and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey made his first relief appearance in a season in which he has emerged as a key member of the Mets’ rotation at 36 years old.
Wright homered off reliever Tyler Clippard (11-8). On Friday night, Josh Thole homered against Clippard in the 10th inning to give New York a 2-1 victory.
With speculation about his job security heating up the last couple of days as the Mets (79-82) stumble to their second straight losing season, manager Jerry Manuel has relied on youngsters to fill an injury-plagued lineup for much of the season.
Manuel said Saturday that Jeff Wilpon, the Mets’ chief operating officer, told him before Friday’s game that there would be no discussions about his future until after the season ends Sunday.
The Mets became the first team to use a lineup of seven rookies since the Florida Marlins used seven on Aug. 23, 2006, according to STATS LLC. In the lineup that day: future All-Stars Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez.
Two New York rookies, second baseman Joaquin Arias and catcher Thole, combined cut down a runner at home plate in the sixth inning to preserve the 2-1 lead.
In addition to joining Maya in becoming the first Cuban starters to face off since May 22, 2003, when Montreal’s Livan Hernandez opposed Florida’s Michael Tejera, according to STATS, Valdes earned another unusual distinction: The 32-year-old rookie became the first pitcher since Ismael Valdes in 1994 to start within three days of pitching in both games of a doubleheader, according to STATS.
Valdes worked 1 2-3 innings, walking one and giving up a hit, in the first game against Milwaukee on Wednesday, then pitched a scoreless inning a few hours later in the nightcap.
Valdes gave up a homer to Mike Morse and a double to Wilson Ramos to start the sixth and left an out later.
Manuel then used six relievers, with Elmer Dessens giving up a tying RBI single to Ramos that hit off third base and shot straight up in the air to make it 2-all.
After Dessens walked pinch-hitter Adam Dunn to load the bases, Ryota Igarashi (1-1) struck out Justin Maxwell to end the threat.
Maya pitched five innings and gave up six hits and two runs. It was the rookie’s best outing in five starts for the Nationals.
Wright hit his 29th homer in the seventh after Clippard gave up a two-out single to Angel Pagan and walked Jesus Feliciano ahead of Wright drive to the second deck in left. Wright, who struck out for the 161st time in his previous at-bat, made a slow, satisfying trip around the bases.
Dickey went 11-9 with a 2.86 ERA for the Mets, getting called up in May to fill in when Jonathon Niese was injured and Oliver Perez was dropped from the rotation. The exiled Perez has only pitched five times since coming off the DL July 21.
Feliciano had a sacrifice fly in the third. Lucas Duda homered in the fourth for a 2-0 lead. Pinch-hitter Chris Carter hit a two-run shot in the eighth.
NOTES: With Thole’s game-ending homer Friday night, the Mets became the first big league team to get game-ending from three catchers in one season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … Nats 1B Dunn was not in the starting lineup for the day game after a night game because of a sore right hamstring. Dunn has 38 homers.
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