NEW YORK (AP)—Jose Reyes’ manager told him to take it easy as he comes back from a strained left hamstring.
Of course, Reyes has only one speed.
David Wright homered and drove in five runs, Reyes returned to the lineup with four hits and the New York Mets beat the struggling Washington Nationals 6-0 Tuesday night behind Mike Pelfrey’s strong pitching performance.
Back in the lineup after missing two games, Reyes didn’t heed Willie Randolph’s advice for even one inning. After singling in the first, he broke for second on a steal attempt but misjudged pitcher Odalis Perez’s pickoff move. First baseman Nick Johnson was barely able to throw out Reyes at second.
“I tried to take it easy, but it’s tough when you have some speed and you get on base,” Reyes said.
He didn’t take it easy on his double in the third, or especially his triple in the fifth.
“I didn’t expect it to feel that good. I felt no pain,” Reyes said.
Said Randolph: “He looked perfect tonight.”
With a chance for a rare natural cycle, Reyes reached on an infield single in the seventh for his first four-hit game since last April 25 against Colorado. Then he struck out in the eighth.
Wright homered for the third straight game and added two doubles.
“We started off real slow in terms of getting that big hit,” Wright said. “Today we got a couple. I think that’s really contagious.”
Odalis Perez (0-3) gave up two runs and six hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out three.
“He is great,” Perez said, referring to Wright. “If you leave it over the plate, he’s going to hit it. Same as Jose Reyes. They have great, talented young players.”
Pelfrey (2-0) pitched a career-high seven innings in his 19th major league start, his first scoreless outing in the majors. He gave up five hits and two walks with four strikeouts, sending the Nationals to their 10th loss in 11 games.
“The kid threw the heck out of the ball,” Randolph said.
Also returning for the Mets was Duaner Sanchez, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since injuring his shoulder in a July 2006 taxi accident. He was activated from the disabled list before the game and worked a one-hit ninth after Aaron Heilman pitched the eighth.
The Mets had little trouble putting away the Nationals in a game between NL East foes who exchanged catchers and outfielders during the offseason. In November, the Mets traded outfielder Lastings Milledge to Washington for right fielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider. In December, the Nationals signed Paul Lo Duca, who spent the past two years catching for the Mets.
Lo Duca didn’t play because of a bruised hand. He was hit by a pitch Sunday against Atlanta and hopes to play Wednesday night.
Milledge was booed loudly every time he came to the plate in his return to New York. He doubled in the first and was thrown out trying to steal third. He finished 1-for-3.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Milledge said of the crowd’s reaction. “I was kind of laughing about it.”
Church was 1-for-3 and Schneider went 0-for-4.
It was Jackie Robinson night at Shea Stadium, and players from both teams wore No. 42 to honor Robinson’s legacy on the 61st anniversary of him breaking baseball’s color barrier when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first time against the Boston Braves.
Pelfrey got into trouble in the third, loading the bases with one out before getting Ryan Zimmerman to pop out and then striking out Nick Johnson.
Pelfrey cruised from there, allowing only one hit—by the opposing pitcher — in his final four innings.
“I think everybody in here knows Pelfrey has it in him,” Wright said. “He’s beginning to get that swagger.”
Randolph juggled his lineup, moving Church to the No. 2 spot and batting Luis Castillo, typically the second batter, eighth. The results were mixed; the top four batters combined to go 9-for-16 with six RBIs, while batters 5-through-9 went 1-for-15.
Wright homered in the first to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
Clinging to a 2-0 lead, the Mets broke through with two runs in the seventh. Reyes singled and went to second on an errant throw by shortstop Cristian Guzman. After Church grounded out, Wright doubled in Reyes, and Carlos Beltran followed with an RBI single.
The Nationals came into the game hitting .232, the lowest mark in the majors, and did nothing to improve that. They were shut out for the third time this season.
The last time Wright homered in at least three straight games was June 7-10 last season, when he did it in four in a row. … New York Gov. David Paterson, who is legally blind, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s widow, was on hand and gave a speech before the game.