NEW YORK (AP) — The latest September slide by the New York Mets has manager Terry Collins fuming.
Ian Desmond had a career-high five hits and Tommy Milone earned his first major league win, leading the Washington Nationals over the slumping Mets 10-1 on Thursday for a rare four-game sweep.
New York lost its sixth straight, one shy of its longest skid this season, and finished 1-8 on the penultimate homestand of the year. The sluggish Mets (71-79) managed five runs in the four-game series and were outscored 48-26 on the homestand.
Moments after the latest loss, Collins said he was “disgusted” with how his team has been playing and took the blame for the poor performance.
“The perception I have right now: We folded it up. And I won’t stand for that,” he said. “You want to see me be intense? You guys are going to see it. I don’t play that game.”
After fighting through some critical injuries to stay competitive most of the season, the Mets are stumbling to the finish. It’s an all-too-familiar refrain, even for the contending teams they fielded a few years ago.
As a tight game turned into a rout in the late innings Thursday, third baseman David Wright committed his sixth error in six games and eighth in the last 10 before a sparse crowd of 22,205 on a dreary afternoon.
“Our fans should be upset. I don’t blame them a bit,” said Collins, in his first season as Mets manager. “No energy, none at all, on the field. This is not the way we played all year long.”
Minus leadoff man Jose Reyes, the Mets went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position — leaving them 18 for 95 (.189) in those situations during the last 10 games. This was their worst homestand since a 1-10 debacle in 2004.
“We know that we’re playing bad. We don’t need anybody to tell us that we’re playing bad,” Wright said. “I think that we’ve played decent on the road, but at home we’ve choked.”
Desmond drove in three late runs from his leadoff spot and Ryan Zimmerman had two RBIs for the Nationals, who won their fifth straight overall and moved past the Mets into third place in the NL East.
The franchise has not finished third or higher since 2002, when it played in Montreal and ended the season in second place.
Making his third major league start, Milone (1-0) allowed one run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings. He became the second consecutive Nationals rookie starter to notch his first career victory, following Brad Peacock’s 2-0 win Wednesday night.
“It feels great. It feels exactly how I wanted it to when I was a little kid,” said Milone, who took three souvenir balls and a shaving-cream pie in the face from teammate John Lannan. “Hopefully, there’s more games like this to come.”
Wilson Ramos added three hits and three runs as Washington polished off its first road sweep of the season without even throwing prized prospect Stephen Strasburg. It was the Nationals’ second four-game sweep since moving from Montreal to Washington for the 2005 season — the other one came in Atlanta to end 2009.
Chris Schwinden (0-2) tossed five solid innings in his second big league start but received little support on offense or defense. New York has dropped eight of nine since pulling within a game of .500 and is closing in on a third straight losing season.
“We’re playing sloppy defense. We’re not holding any kind of offensive rally,” Wright said. “It’s a number of different things and it’s been a bad homestand.”
Both rookie starters remained in the game following a 40-minute rain delay in the bottom of the second.
With the bases loaded in the seventh, Todd Coffey retired Wright on an inning-ending flyout to preserve a 3-1 lead. Wright slammed his helmet in frustration.
Washington added three runs in the rainy eighth, including an RBI single by Desmond and a run-scoring double by Zimmerman.
Desmond added a two-run double in a four-run ninth against Manny Acosta.
NOTES: New York has left 50 runners on base over the past five games after stranding 10 on Thursday. … Reyes, leading the NL in hitting, was rested and Ruben Tejada started at SS. Reyes will play all three games in Atlanta this weekend, Collins said. … The Nationals won the season series for the first time, 10-8. … Washington relievers combined for 14 2-3 scoreless innings in the series.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)