Instead, the Mets are scrambling to avoid a painful series defeat in Wednesday night’s finale.
After winning for just the seventh time in 21 games in Monday night’s opener, New York (44-49) had only one batter reach second base Tuesday night en route to a 4-0 loss.
John Lannan(notes) scattered seven hits while becoming the first Washington starter to pitch a shutout at Nationals Park since it opened last year. He also helped snap Washington’s six-game overall losing skid and gave manager Jim Riggleman his first victory since taking over for the fired Manny Acta at the All-Star break.
“I can’t lie to you, it feels good to win a ballgame,” Riggleman said. “John was so outstanding tonight that he made it easy for the staff and myself to do what we do - just watch him work.”
Jeff Francoeur(notes) was the only player with two hits for the Mets, who are batting .224 since June 26 and have hit a major league-low four home runs in July. New York has been shut out nine times this year, tied with Atlanta and the Chicago White Sox for most in the majors.
“Very, very, very staggering stats by today’s standards in baseball,” New York manager Jerry Manuel said. “You see teams scoring a lot of runs, and we seem to be saving ours for the next day.”
Tuesday’s shutout loss was the seventh for the Mets since June 22, when All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran(notes) (bone bruise, right knee) went on the disabled list. Nine Mets players are currently on the DL, and manager Jerry Manuel said Tuesday that Gary Sheffield(notes) might also go on the shelf because of an ailing right hamstring if he doesn’t heal by Friday.
Even if its hitters bounce back Wednesday, New York likely won’t earn its third series win since June 9 if right-hander Mike Pelfrey(notes) (7-5, 5.07 ERA) repeats his effort from Friday night’s 11-0 loss in Atlanta - a career-worst nine earned runs allowed over 4 1-3 innings.
“He’s going to have to step it up,” Manuel said. “He’s the guy we depend on, and we have to have better from him.”
Pelfrey, who has alternated wins and losses in his last five outings, earned a victory in his only start this season against the Nationals on April 25 at home by allowing two runs over 5 2-3 innings. He improved to 3-3 with a 3.79 ERA in nine career matchups versus Washington.
Trying to win consecutive games for just the second time since June 20, the Nationals will turn to rookie right-hander Craig Stammen(notes) (2-5, 4.46), who is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in two starts this season against the Mets.
After benefiting from his team’s season-high 13 runs during a complete-game win over Houston on July 11, Stammen suffered his third loss in five starts Friday night, 3-1 to the visiting Chicago Cubs as he gave up three runs in six innings.
The right-hander has received only two total runs of support in his five losses this season from Washington (27-66), which has lost four consecutive series.
The Mets hold an 8-3 edge in the season series.