Gio Gonzalez threw 111 pitches in seven scoreless innings on Saturday night in New York to make Washington's 1-0 lead hold up as long as he could.
After that, Nationals' manager Matt Williams turned to Aaron Barrett, who retired pinch hitter Curtis Granderson and Mets' center fielder Juan Lagares before handing the ball off to Matt Grace who faced left-handed slugger Lucas Duda (who finished the series with a .407/.467/.556 line vs LHPs on the year, but grounded and struck out in two key lefty vs lefty matchups in the Mets' back-to-back losses).
"Gio is out of pitches at that point," Williams explained, returning to Saturday night's action, "so we got Barrett in there to face -- we knew we were going to get Granderson, but with nobody on, it's one thing, but then when Duda came to the plate, [Grace] throws the ball sinking down in the zone and good groundball matchup trying to keep him out of the air for sure and it worked out."
After Barrett and Grace combined for a 1-2-3 eighth, Drew Storen came on for the ninth and retired the side in order in a quick, nine-pitch, seven-strike, 1-2-3 frame of his own.
On Sunday afternoon in Citi Field, Doug Fister kept the Mets off the board through 6 ⅓, Tanner Roark retired the last two batters in the seventh, stranding the runner he inherited and then Matt Thornton (though not particularly sharp) and Aaron Barrett took care of eighth inning, with Thornton walking two batters around a groundout before striking out Duda, and handing it off to Barrett, who struck Michael Cuddyer out to strand two of the seven batters the Mets left on base in the one-run game.
Storen, though not quite as efficient (it took 13 pitches this time) retired the side in order in the ninth and earned his seventh save of the season while securing the Nationals' third win of the four-game set.
"[Barrett has] been pounding the strike zone," Williams said, breaking down the work his bullpen did in the series finale in NY.
"He's got a strikeout slider and he threw a couple of them to Cuddyer to get him. The biggest pitch of the at bat was probably the sinker in. Sinker in for a strike that [Cuddyer] fouled off and opened up the outside part of the plate for him."
Storen, Williams explained, was successfully able to keep his pitches down in the zone.
"Sinker down, threw some changeups today that were effective, some sliders that were effective as well," the Nats' skipper said.
"But the more we get him in there the better rhythm he's got. It's been a little slim pickings for him early, but the more he gets in there the better rhythm he has."
The Nats' starters and bullpen came through this weekend, and after dropping the first three games of the ten-game road trip to Miami, Atlanta and New York, the Nats wrapped it up at 5-5 and chipped away at the Mets' division lead while pulling up to a half-game behind the Marlins and Braves, who come to the nation's capital this week.
Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nats news while you wait for the series previews...
NATS BEAT: Another 1-0 win; Desmond's glove; Surgery for Johnson
Nats beat Mets
• "The Washington Nationals began this 10-game trip in awful fashion, losing four in a row to complete a six-game skid and dip six games below .500 in late April." - "Another day, another 1-0 win for Nationals against Mets" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "According to manager Matt Williams, Fister was not happy when he was taken out of the game..." - "Fister, 'pen combine for yet another Nats shutout" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
• "It's the second time the Nationals have made a bit of history on this 10-day roadtrip." - "Nationals Pastime: Nats living on the edge in back-to-back shutouts" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "It marked the first time in Nationals/Expos history that the team has won back-to-back games by a score of 1-0." - "Fist bump: Righty helps Nats top Mets 1-0 again" - Bill Ladson and Joe Trezza, nationals.com
• "After Saturday's contest, the Nationals' relievers had put together 8 2/3 innings over their last four games..." - "Bullpen success never more important than in one-run wins" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• "The Nationals did just enough on offense to edge the Mets, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field." - "Nats get the job done despite RISP struggles" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
Desmond changed his glove?
• "So Desmond made a switch. 'I sent it down to Triple-A basically,' he said. And he called up his backup glove..." - "Ian Desmond switched his gloves to feel more comfortable" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
Reed Johnson's foot
• "Reed Johnson underwent minor surgery on Saturday to repair a damaged tendon in his left foot, according to a person familiar with the situation." - "Reed Johnson undergoes minor foot surgery" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
Reed Johnson underwent minor surgery on his left foot on Saturday. http://t.co/yGcvP444y5— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) May 4, 2015
NATIONAL(S) BEAT: Gee titles; Mets' slide; Marlins preview
• "Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has enjoyed great success at Nationals Park. In 35 games, the slugger is batting .336 with 14 home runs and 27 RBIs." - "Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals - May 4, 2015" - Joe Frisaro, MLB.com Preview
• "On a bright, warm, truly spring-like afternoon at Citi Field Sunday, Gee set a Mets record by turning in his 51st consecutive start of five innings or more..." - "Madden: Gee whiz! Mets' Dillon deserved better vs. Nats" - Bill Madden, NY Daily News
• "Sunday, the Mets offense stalled again. They were shutout for a second straight game and have not scored over their last 18 innings." - "With 7 losses in 10 games, are Mets worrying after defeat to Washington Nationals?" - Mike Vorkunov, NJ.com
• "The Mets dropped three of four to the National League East favorites this weekend and have now lost three consecutive series — to the Yankees, Marlins and Nationals." - "Mets’ limp lineup, SS woes surface in another shutout loss" - Zach Braziller, New York Post
Just Say, 'No!' to the DH:
• "Rizzo was very adamant on a Wednesday radio appearance he made on 106.7 The Fan that he will never favor the DH." - "The National League Can't Fold, They Must Stay Away from Designated Hitter" - Heath Clary, VAVEL.com
• "Phelps received a no-decision in his Tuesday start over the Mets despite allowing two runs on seven hits with no walks over six innings." - "Preview: Marlins at Nationals; Monday, 7:05 p.m." - Harvey Fialkov, Sun Sentinel
• "Latos tweaked his left hamstring while coming out of the batters' box on a single to right field in his Wednesday start against the Mets." - "Latos cleared to start Tuesday vs. Nationals" - Joe Frisaro, marlins.com
• "By pitching at least five innings again in a start, he set the record with his 51st consecutive start of at least five innings." - "What Mets record did Dillon Gee set in start vs. Washington Nationals?" - Mike Vorkunov, NJ.com
Ian Desmond w/ flattering words about Dillon Gee: "Every time we face Cy Gee he does that to us. The guy figures out a way to get out of it"— Mike Vorkunov (@Mike_Vorkunov) May 3, 2015
• "But lefty Matt Thornton got Duda to chase a slider for strike three. Then righty Aaron Barrett got Cuddyer to chase a slider for strike three..." - "Overanxious Mets hitters go from heroes to zeros" - Brian Heyman, Newsday
• "Even after taking three out of four games from the New York Mets in Sunday's 1-0 win, the Washington Nationals are still two games below .500." - "Washington Nationals can put a slow month behind them" - Christina Kahrl, SweetSpot - ESPN
• "Negotiations between the city of Fredericksburg and sports facility operator Diamond Nation have reached an impasse." - "Diamond Nation deal dead in Fredericksburg" - Pamela Gould, Fredericksburg.com
• "Former Merritt Island High pitcher, who has a career 1-6 mark with the Washington Nationals, is now 1-2 with a 3.21 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse." - "Tracking Brevard's elite sports stars" - Hillard Grossman, Florida Today
• "The Hagerstown Suns (10-13) coughed up two different two-run leads on Sunday afternoon..." - "Drive rout Suns 14-4" - Eli Pearlstein, Hagerstown Suns News
• "Nationals hurler, RHP John Simms (0-2) was the losing pitcher of record after allowing five earned runs in the 2nd inning." - "Potomac Nationals Game Recap at Salem Red Sox.5.3.15" - Potomac Nationals News
Salem (12-10) 10, Potomac (10-14) 6, WP: T. Buttrey (1-0), LP: J. Simms (0-2), S: G. Taveras (1), HR: None— Potomac Nationals (@PNats42) May 3, 2015
• "Harrisburg 9 vs. Bowie 11 - Kevin Keyes - 3 for 5, 2 R" - Harrisburg Senators Box
• "The Syracuse Chiefs, Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, completed a three-game sweep of the Columbus Clippers with a 7-3 victory on Sunday afternoon." - "Taylor Hill, Emmanuel Burriss lead the Syracuse Chiefs to a 7-3 win over the Columbus Clippers for a series sweep" - Syracuse Chiefs News
NL EAST UPDATES: Angry Howard; Aggressive Teheran; Fish in D.C.
• Marlins: "Miami Marlins right-hander Mat Latos will make his scheduled start on Tuesday night against the Nationals in Washington." - "Miami Marlins notes: Mat Latos scheduled to start Tuesday against Nationals" - Christina De Nicola, FOX Sports
• Braves: "Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell evaluated this three-start stretch and came away with the belief that Teheran needed to regain his aggressive approach..." - "Aggressive approach suits sharp Teheran" - Mark Bowman, braves.com
Phillies (@Phillies) May 3, 2015
• Phillies: "Maybe if Ryan Howard would just get angry more often, this nauseating Phillies season would be a little easier to stomach." - "Angry Ryan Howard turns on fastballs, lifts Phillies to win" - Jim Salisbury, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia