Mets 3, Nationals 2

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NEW YORK (AP)—With Billy Wagner looming in the bullpen, the New York Mets are going to be tough to catch in the late innings.

Especially if they get this kind of help from the umpires.

Tom Glavine outpitched Livan Hernandez in a matchup of World Series MVPs, newcomer Xavier Nady went 4-for-4 and David Wright homered to help New York edge the Washington Nationals 3-2 Monday.

“Our defense and pitching carried us today,” new first baseman Carlos Delgado said.

Alfonso Soriano certainly looked competent in his first game as a major league outfielder—and he was the player thrown out at the plate when Tim Tschida missed a key call in the eighth inning.

With the Nationals trailing by one, Soriano singled leading off and—with none out—was curiously waved around third by coach Tony Beasley on Ryan Zimmerman’s double into the left-field corner.

Jose Reyes’ accurate relay throw to the plate beat a diving Soriano, but replays showed new catcher Paul Lo Duca juggled and dropped the ball after applying the tag.

Tschida, who had properly rotated down from first base, didn’t see it, perhaps blocked by Lo Duca’s back from his position in front of the plate.

“Just show it and sell it,” Lo Duca said. “It trickled down my arm and I just grabbed it and showed the umpire. It was a break. Sometimes you need those. You’re going to get breaks against you during the year.”

Surprisingly, the Nationals never argued the call.

“I didn’t see the ball come out. I didn’t see the replay. I don’t want to see it,” Washington manager Frank Robinson said.

Aaron Heilman escaped the inning without any damage. Wagner, the All-Star closer who signed a $43 million, four-year contract with New York in the offseason to nail down tight games just like this one, worked the ninth for a save in his Mets debut.

“Might as well get thrown right into the fire. No use cupcakin’ it,” Wagner said.

He ran in from the bullpen to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” the same anthem Mariano Rivera has across town with the Yankees.

“I was so nervous they could have shot fire rockets behind me, I wouldn’t have known,” Wagner said.

He also got an assist in the form of ill-advised baserunning by the Nationals when Jose Vidro was easily thrown out at second by Carlos Beltran to end the game on a single to left-center.

“I’ve got to get to second base. I’ve got to try my best to do that. I was going to be aggressive,” Vidro said. “It took a perfect throw.”

In last year’s opener at Cincinnati, the Mets failed to hold a ninth-inning lead when Braden Looper allowed home runs to Adam Dunn and Joe Randa in a 7-6 loss.

Playing very deep in left, especially against left-handed sluggers, Soriano caught four fly balls without a problem. He did mistakenly break back and circle Nady’s sixth-inning blooper, letting it drop in front of him for a single.

“Left field was great today,” Soriano said. “No troubles.”

The Nationals, beginning their second season in the nation’s capital, got three hits and an RBI from Vidro. An All-Star second baseman, he’s the reason Washington moved Soriano to left.

Making his seventh opening-day start, Glavine allowed one run and six hits in six innings to earn his 276th career win. The two-time Cy Young Award winner also went 2-for-2, including a single that helped his team score in the third on Lo Duca’s bloop single.

Coming off right knee surgery last October, Hernandez gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings to take the loss on a gray, 55-degree afternoon.

Soriano, an AL All-Star at second base the past four seasons, was acquired from Texas in a December trade and initially refused to switch positions. He finally agreed, but played only 10 exhibition games in left after returning from the World Baseball Classic.

He handled his first chance in left without a problem, catching Reyes’ third-inning line drive and holding a runner at third base with an accurate throw to the infield.

He looked pretty relaxed out there, even turning around to gesture to fans in the bleachers.

Soriano also went 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base—on a 3-0 count to Zimmerman. Their singles helped load the bases with none out in the fourth, and Royce Clayton’s sacrifice fly tied it at 1.

Nady’s two-out RBI double in the bottom half put the Mets ahead again. Wright connected on an 0-2 pitch from Hernandez leading off the sixth and was serenaded with expectant chants of “MVP! MVP!”

Vidro cut it to 3-2 with an RBI single off Heilman in the seventh, but the right-hander then got Jose Guillen to ground into a double play.


Glavine (1995 World Series MVP) and Hernandez (1997) have now combined for 386 career wins, the most of any opposing opening-day starters this year.

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