Nationals 2, Mets 1
WASHINGTON (AP)—Facing a fellow lefty that he admires, and pitching against a team that made him a first-round draft pick in 2000, Billy Traber was at his best.
Traber outdueled Tom Glavine on Friday night, pitching into the eighth inning and allowing only four hits to lead the Washington Nationals past New York 2-1, ending the Mets’ five-game winning streak.
Just back up from the minors, Traber (2-1) allowed Paul Lo Duca’s first homer since May 13 in the first inning and then settled down to earn his eighth career major league win—279 fewer than Glavine owns.
The secret to Traber’s success?
“Let them hit the ball,” he said. “I can’t really be scared of contact. That’s the only way I’m going to go deep into a game. All I want to do is chew up innings.”
That’s exactly what Washington’s weary bullpen needed him to do. As it was, after Traber left, the Mets put runners at second and third in the eighth against Jon Rauch, but Lo Duca struck out. And in the ninth, closer Chad Cordero’s 21st save didn’t come until after he hit a batter and gave up a single.
Mets manager Willie Randolph called it a “weird kind of game where you feel like you’re going to win it. You get a lot of men on base, but you can’t that one real big hit.”
It was Washington’s second win in 35 games in which it scored fewer than three runs.
Glavine (12-5) was almost as good as Traber. But the two-time Cy Young Award winner gave up a two-run double in the second to No. 8 hitter Brian Schneider— when Glavine said he was trying to pitch around him with Traber on deck.
The left-handed Schneider reached for an outside pitch and pushed it into right field.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Schneider said.
Glavine threw a season-high 123 pitches in six innings and has won only one of his last nine starts.
“The whole team, that was our goal, to work him and make him throw as many pitches as possible,” Schneider said.
Traber, in contrast, stayed ahead of hitters and kept his pitch count low, needing only 81 to get through seven innings—his combined total for two starts in April.
“More than what we expected. Exactly what I needed,” manager Frank Robinson said. “He took me where I didn’t think he’d be able to take me tonight. It was just a great effort on his part.”
Traber was removed after giving up a leadoff single to Michael Tucker on the first pitch of the eighth. The fans gave Traber a standing ovation, but he didn’t acknowledge it, running to the dugout with his head down.
The Mets did make plenty of contact, but Traber got some help, including a catch against the fence by left fielder Alfonso Soriano, and shortstop Felipe Lopez’s running, reaching, over-the-shoulder catch with his back to the infield on Jose Valentin’s popup into shallow left-center.
Otherwise, the only Mets to get to Traber were Jose Reyes with a double in the third, and Lastings Milledge with a single in the fifth. Both hits came with two outs, and Traber got the next batter both times. When Reyes reached on Lopez’s fielding error in the sixth, Traber picked him off. After hitting David Wright in the seventh, Traber got Julio Franco to ground into a double play.
That’s the kind of thing Glavine’s made a career out of.
“He wants guys to hit pitches. It sounds really repetitive and boring, but quite honestly I think he wants contact, and I think he wants guys to hit his pitches—which is what I want also,” Traber said. “Except he’s been doing it forever, and he’s very good at it, and he’s probably the best at it or one of the best at it.”
Traber was drafted out of Loyola Marymount by the Mets, who traded him to Cleveland in 2002 as part of the deal that brought Robert Alomar to New York. His career highlight with the Indians was a one-hit shutout of the Yankees in 2003—but two months later, he had reconstructive elbow surgery, then missed all of 2004.
He made two starts for Washington early this season, but he was sent down to the minors after giving up four runs in 1 1-3 innings on April 25.
Robinson’s hopes when he sent Traber out there Friday?
“Just take what he could give me, other than an early exit. Five, six innings, whatever,” Robinson said. “I just didn’t want an early exit, because that would have created havoc out there in the bullpen.”
Mets CF Carlos Beltran was back in the lineup after sitting out a game to rest his sore right knee. … Schneider has three RBIs the last two games after driving in two runs in the previous 19.