Maybe the New York Mets would be better off if they didn't score early this evening, because they've taken an early lead in each of the last two games against Washington both of which they've eventually lost. The Nationals left-handed starter Matt Chico retires the first three batters he faces in a quick and scoreless first.
Mets fans have talked about Mike Pelfrey with the same expectant tone they used when speaking about Lastings Milledge over the last couple seasons. While Milledge needed, more than anything, to adjust his personality to the Majors to match the level of his game, Pelfrey has calmly and quietly taken a while to get adjusted to the Major League level's on-field action.
My brother Scout, Braves Fan and Source For All Things Baseball, watched Pelfrey against Atlanta in the last few weeks and was impressed, so judging by his anecdotal evidence and Pelfrey's gaining his first two wins over the same period, it seems that he's beginning to make the necessary adjustments. The Mets right-handed rookie gives up a two-out single to Ryan Zimmerman, but records his own scoreless frame in the first.
Moises Alou and Jeff Conine hit a single and double in succession in the third, and Paul LoDuca will face Matt Chico with two on and one out. LoDuca flies to left center. The hobbled Moises Alou tags and scores from third for an early 1-0 Mets lead. Chico issues Lastings Milledge the intentionals to bring up the opposing pitcher, who grounds weakly to short to end the top of the second.
Ronnie Belliard rips a grounder by a diving David Wright at third and takes second base as Moises Alou's throw in from left soars wide. Robert Fick lines to short center, and Belliard has to pull up at third when Carlos Beltran gets the ball back in quickly. Jesus "The Future" Flores gets sawed off and grounds back to the mound allowing Belliard to score from third and tie it at 1-1. Matt Chico goes with a sinking fastball from Pelfrey and pushes it out to left for a single to score Fick from second. 2-1 Nationals after two.
Jose Reyes reaches down and lifts a long fly ball to left that Wily Mo Pena almost catches while leaping into the fencing, but he comes up empty and can't find the ball which is stuck in the fence's padding while Reyes rounds third..."Ground rule double," according to the Ump. Chico gets a ground ball to short from Luis Castillo which holds Reyes at second base. Jose Reyes is running when David Wright singles. 2-2 ballgame after two and a half.
Felipe Lopez singles and gets picked off of first to start the third. Pelfrey pops up Ryan Zimmerman for the second out before he gives up an infield single to Wily Mo Pena, bringing up Austin Kearns with two out in the third. Kearns walks on four straight. Pelfrey pops up Belliard to end the third.
Matt Chico gets Jeff Conine swinging at a full count fastball to start the fourth. LoDuca flies to right. Milledge grounds out to second. Chico's through four. Robert Fick fools Milledge on a shanker to right. Jesus Flores grounds to short, but the Mets settle for the force at second when Fick takes out Castillo. Chico lays down a sac bunt to advance Flores into scoring position, but Pelfrey gets Nook Logan looking to end the fourth.
Jose Reyes lines a single to right with one out in the fifth and scores when Luis Castillo triples to center in the next at bat. 3-2 Mets lead. David Wright lines out to center. Castillo trots home. 4-2 New York in the fifth. Felipe Lopez leads off with a single, moves to second on a passed ball and takes third when Zimmerman grounds out. Wily Mo Pena walks on four straight. First and third for Kearns. Kearns grounds to short, Lopez breaks late for home, so the Mets get the force at second but Luis Castillo's throw home is high, Lopez scores from third. 4-3 Mets after five.
Moises Alou doubles to start the sixth. Jeff Conine's sac bunt moves Alou to third. Manny Acta, Nationals Manager, lifts Chico for Big John Albaladejo. Paul LoDuca lines a sac fly to center. Alou tags and scores. 5-3 New York in the sixth. Pelfrey issues a leadoff walk to Fick to start the bottom of the sixth. Jesus Flores lines to center, and Beltran misplays the bouncing ball allowing Fick to take third. D'Angelo "Red-Hot" Jimenez will face a new pitcher. Pelfrey out. Right hander Jorge Sosa comes on. Jimenez stares at three straight strikes. Nook Logan grounds to second, Jose Reyes fields it, steps on the bag and throws out Logan for an inning ending DP. 5-3 Mets after six.
Chris Schroder gives up a leadoff single to Shawn Green to start the seventh. Jose Reyes bunts Green to second. Luis Castillo grounds to first, and Fick throws it away allowing Green to score from second. 6-3 Mets. David Wright doubles to right. Castillo scores. 7-3 New York. Alou lines in Wright. 8-3 Mets lead. Stand up and stretch...
Felipe Lopez singles off Jorge Sosa to start the Nationals seventh. Zimmerman chases a slider outside for strike three. Wily Mo Pena flies out. Austin Kearns backs Beltran up to the track in center where he catches the third out. Jesus "Everyday" Colome pitches a scoerless top of the eigth. Aaron Heilman's does the same and holds the lead at 8-3 NY.
Winston Abreu puts the Mets down in order in the top of the ninth. The Nationals have three outs to get five runs off Billy Wagner. Justin Maxwell reaches on a throwing error from David Wright which allows Maxwell to take second. Nook Logan pops out to second. Felipe Lopez grounds back to Wagner for the second out. Ryan Zimmerman lines to right to score J-Max. 8-4 Mets. Wagner strikes out Wily Mo Pena to end it. 8-4 final.
Nationals now 68-84.