Mets 3, Nationals 2
NEW YORK (AP)—Mike Pelfrey was one of the few people happy to escape Florida for the cold of New York.
Left behind at spring training because of early season off days, Pelfrey made his season debut Friday night. He struggled with his control but induced three double-play grounders in helping the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 3-2.
It was 46 degrees at the start of the game and the wind was swirling at 26 mph. Some players wore ski masks and hoodies. Not exactly baseball weather.
“I’m from Kansas. I think it might be snowing there now,” Pelfrey said. “I’m definitely used to this.”
Not Paul Lo Duca. The catcher had trouble gripping the ball when he threw it back to the mound.
“It’s brutal,” he said. “I’m a wimp.”
Washington gave manager Manny Acta an unprecedented early lead in his return to New York. Even that wasn’t enough for Acta to win his first managerial matchup with his former boss, Willie Randolph.
Pinch-hitter Julio Franco singled up the middle to put the Mets ahead 3-2 in the seventh. David Wright, who extended his hitting streak to 22 games in the second inning, led off with a base hit and stole second. The 48-year-old Franco batted for Aaron Heilman (1-1) with two outs and grounded a single for his first hit of the season.
“It’s very important for us to continue where we left (off) last year,” Franco said.
Washington’s John Patterson, seeking his first win in since April 15 last year, lowered his ERA from 9.35 to 7.07 and left with a 2-1 lead after 5 1-3 innings.
But Carlos Delgado hit a tying single off the left-field wall in the sixth against Micah Bowie, Ryan Wagner (0-1) gave up the lead in the seventh and the Nationals (2-9) lost for the seventh time in eight games.
“Pat did a good job for us. He deserved to get a victory,” Washington catcher Brian Schneider said.
Washington took a 2-1 lead in the second, a novelty for a team that has been outscored 64-25. The Nationals had been the first major league team from 1900 on not to score in the first three innings of any of their first 10 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The most previously had been the 1931 Cincinnati Reds, who went scoreless in the first three innings of their first eight, and the 1962 Milwaukee Braves and the 1963 Philadelphia Phillies at seven each.
Acta called a team meeting after Wednesday’s loss in Atlanta, and the team responded by beating the Braves 2-0.
“Basically I just wanted to let the guys know that every team is going to go through this at least twice during the year, regardless of how good your team is,” Acta said. “I didn’t want them to get too down.”
Acta had been Randolph’s third-base coach for two years before the Nationals hired him during the offseason.
“There’s always a sense of gratification when your guys get the nod to be a big league manager,” Randolph said. “Manny did a great job here and I thought that he was ready to get this opportunity. I think he’s going to do fine in time.”
Pelfrey, a 23-year-old who won a job as the fifth starter in spring training, got in trouble in the second when he loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of walks around Austin Kearns’ single. Schneider followed with a run-scoring double-play grounder, and No. 8 hitter Chris Snelling singled on the next pitch for a 2-1 lead. In all, Pelfrey allowed six hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings.
“Overall, I was pleased with the way he kind of grinded it out,” Randolph said. “He showed some poise when he had to.”
A storm is forecast that could cause Sunday’s series finale to be postponed, meaning Pelfrey could be skipped over again.
“I have five big league starts. I don’t have any pull around here,” he said with a laugh.
Pedro Feliciano, Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis and Billy Wagner (third save) combined for 3 1-3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. Jose Reyes scored for New York in the first and sixth innings, on Carlos Betran’s groundout and Delgado’s long single.
“Usually when he gets on, we roll,” Randolph said.
For Acta, it was another long night in a season that seems destined for many of them.
“We’ve got to get more runs,” he said.
Snelling had singles in his first two at-bats after entering 2-for-13. While others bundled up, Snelling played left field in short sleeves. … Wright is the first player since Curt Flood and Dick Groat (both 1961-62) to end one season with a hitting streak of 10 or more games and start the next season with a hitting streak of at least 10 games, according to Elias. … Reyes has eight steals in nine tries against Patterson.
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