After Saturday night's 1-0 win over the first-place Mets in New York's Citi Field, Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams said that though he appreciated the pitching performance Gio Gonzalez provided, he would have liked to have scored a few more runs so it was a little less stressful.
A night after they came up empty against right-hander Matt Harvey and the Mets' bullpen, going 0 for 3 on the night with runners in scoring position and stranding five runners in what was a 1-0 game until the home-half of the eighth, the Nats went just 1 for 8 on Saturday with nine left on base in a 1-0 game in which Gonzalez threw seven scoreless before handing it over to the Nationals' 'pen.
"They have the ability to do that," Williams said after Gonzalez and Scherzer both held the Mets' hitters in check, for the most part, with Scherzer giving up just one run on a solo home run by Michael Cuddyer in seven innings of work.
"Certainly would like to score more than one to help them out," Williams said. "But they can keep another team down, and give us opportunities. We had a lot of them tonight. That's great. That gives the guys confidence on the offensive side that the guys are going pitch well and keep us in a game."
On Sunday it was Doug Fister's turn. Fister held the Mets scoreless through 6 ⅓, giving up just five hits including the one-out double in the seventh by catcher Kevin Plawecki that ended his start after just 89 pitches with the Nationals holding onto a 1-0 lead.
With Plawecki on second in a one-run game, Williams went to right-hander Tanner Roark, who stranded the runner he inherited.
"We decided to get Tanner [Roark] in there for a leverage spot and he pitched well," Williams said.
"Doug wasn't real happy about it, but the ball that Plawecki hit to left off the wall was just elevated and when he gets in trouble then it starts to come up a little bit, when he gets tired, so felt it was the right spot."
The Nationals managed to win two of the last three games while scoring just two runs, but the Mets' struggles on the offensive end played a role as well.
"We're not getting big hits, that's for sure," Terry Collins told reporters after New York's third loss of the four-game set with the defending NL East champs.
"The middle of our lineup -- we like a lot, and today they got neutralized pretty much. That's where it starts. We had a couple of opportunities, couldn't come through with anything and against the Nationals, as we've seen in the past, you've got to score when you get the chances."
"I don't think we're swinging the bats like we can," Collins continued, "but I'm not taking anything away from their pitching staff, make no mistake. When they went out and got Max Scherzer, people were wrapping the World Series trophy and sending it to Washington. That kind of tells you how good a pitching staff they've got. But at the same token, we haven't hit the ball here in the last ten games like we can and like we should, so that's also part of it. And they pitched good, I'm not taking anything away, but we've got to put better swings on the ball than that."
The Nationals scored eight runs in the series opener on Thursday night, but just three over the final three games with the Mets, and the Nats' skipper talked once again after the series finale about continuing to generate chances knowing they will eventually cash them in.
"Three games ago it was everybody," Williams said. "So it's cyclical like that, so we'll just keep providing ourselves those opportunities and we'll come through."
Harvey on Friday night, Jon Niese on Saturday and Dillon Gee in the series finale, all did a good job of holding the Nationals' offense at bat after Washington scored 34 runs in the previous three games.
"That's why they're in first place," Williams said. "Because they've been pitching well, their offense has been good for them. We were able to, the last couple games, shut them down and get just enough. We're happy about that, now we get a chance to head home. It's been a long road trip."
• We talked about the series, Fister's outing, the Nats' pen and more on Nats Nightly: