WASHINGTON (AP) — Neither the trading away of Carlos Beltran nor facing Chien-Ming Wang in his return to the big leagues could slow the suddenly surging New York Mets.
Jose Reyes drove in two runs, and the Mets made Wang’s first start since 2009 a short one with an 8-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
Ronny Paulino finished with three hits, and David Wright and Jason Bay each had two as the Mets scored four times in the first inning en route to their fifth straight win. It was New York’s major league-leading 33rd road win and the Mets stand 6 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card race.
“We’ve had a lot of distractions and a lot of guys go down,” Bay said, “Then you look back and we’ve won five straight and it’s kind of like wow, why not. I don’t know how far out we are, but I’d imagine we’re getting a little closer.”
Dillon Gee (10-3) allowed three runs and four hits over 6 2-3 innings and hit an RBI single in the fourth for the Mets, who have won three straight since their former star right fielder played his last game with them on July 26.
“Our guys have realized that nobody in this league is going to feel sorry for you just because you lost Carlos Beltran,” manager Terry Collins said. “They got to go play and not worry about stuff we can’t control, trades and everything else. All you’re going to do is get beat. These guys have decided they’ve got things to prove and they’ve done a great job.”
The Nationals on the other hand continue to scuffle, having lost six straight and eight of nine overall. Trailing 6-0 midway through the fourth inning, they rallied late and had the winning run at the plate in the eighth, but failed to capitalize.
“We gave ourselves chances,” said Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. “That’s tough to do against that team, they’ve been playing good.”
Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Wang (0-1) couldn’t help the Nationals in his first major league appearance since having shoulder surgery exactly two years earlier. The right-hander gave up six runs and eight hits in four innings.
Wang made his first start since July 4, 2009, when he was a member of the New York Yankees.
His rocky first inning started with a four-pitch walk to the leadoff hitter Reyes. The Mets shortstop took second on a wild pitch, moved to third on Justin Turner’s single to center and scored on Daniel Murphy’s opposite field hit to left. It was the fourth straight game they pushed across a run in the first inning.
Wright hammered a 1-2 slider off the right-field wall for a single to load the bases. Angel Pagan hit a two-run single to left on the next pitch for the Mets’ fourth consecutive hit.
Wang finally recorded an out on Bay’s grounder, but Lucas Duda’s sacrifice fly to left scored Wright to make it 4-0. Pagan was caught between second and third and tagged to end the inning.
After retiring eight of nine batters, Wang allowed the Mets to put up two runs in the fourth in his final inning. With runners on first and second and no out, Paulino singled to right. Jayson Werth misplayed the ball, but center fielder Rick Ankiel backed him up and threw Bay out at the plate. The Mets still scored two runs on Gee’s grounder up the middle and Reyes’ sacrifice to left.
Wang threw 60 pitches with one walk and two strikeouts, satisfying his manager in the process.
“I was actually impressed,” Davey Johnson said. “His delivery looked really easy. He had some good velocity on the ball. I was pleased. I really didn’t think I was going to see that much.”
Paulino and Reyes hit RBI doubles in the sixth inning off reliever Tom Gorzelanny.
After Gee, who walked four and struck out five, faced one above the minimum batters through three innings, the Nationals got on the board in the fourth. With the bases loaded and one out, Laynce Nix grounded to second base for a potential inning-ending double play, but Reyes’ throw to first base for the final out was wild, allowing two runs to score.
In the fourth, Ankiel hit a sacrifice fly.
“When the hitters put up a four spot in the first inning, it makes my job a lot easier,” Gee said. “When we have a night like this, the credit has to go to them.”
The Nationals plated two runs off three Mets relievers in the eighth to make it 8-5 and had the bases loaded with one out. D.J. Carrasco entered and struck out Danny Espinosa and Zimmerman to end the threat.
NOTES: Wright has gotten a hit in all eight games since coming of the disabled list on July 22, and has multiple hits in seven of the eight games. … Nationals OF Roger Bernadina was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Wang. The Nationals’ primary CF since Johnson was hired as manager, Bernadina was hitting .247 with five homers, 20 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 71 games this season, but was hitless over his last 20 at-bats.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)