A day earlier Beltran told Reyes he would like to see him bring back that bouncy enthusiasm that ignites the Mets. Well, Reyes is bouncing and high-fiving, and New York is winning.
Beltran’s three-run shot in a four-run fifth inning backed John Maine’s solid start and led the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 5-2 on Wednesday night, their second straight win with Reyes back in the lineup.
“I could tell that he was not happy. I told him not to listen, just be you. … When you’re like that, I like it. He’s a fun guy when he was jumping around,” Beltran said about his conversation with Reyes, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing two games with a leg injury.
Reyes hit his first homer—a night after getting four hits—and Ryan Church went deep to help New York hand the anemic Nationals their 11th loss in 12 games.
“He came to the ballpark and told me … ‘You have to still enjoy the game, do your handshakes because we like the way your are. So don’t change because when you change it you’re fake,”’ said Reyes, who had vowed to stop his elaborate handshakes because it upset opponents. “I’m going to be the old Jose Reyes, I’m going to keep enjoying the game.”
Maine earned his first win with support from a bullpen that spoiled his stellar effort April 10 against the Phillies. After he walked two with two outs in the seventh inning Wednesday, Joe Smith got No. 3 hitter Ryan Zimmerman on a called third strike.
“He did a good job coming in against a good hitter,” Maine said. “He saved my butt.”
Maine wasn’t as happy with his performance, allowing four walks.
“The walks, they’ve been up in all these games,” said Maine, who has issued 12 walks in 16 2-3 innings. “To be able to miss that bad—in the seventh after I got two outs—it’s frustrating.”
In his previous start, Maine (1-1) took a 3-0 lead into the seventh but Aaron Heilman squandered the advantage in the eighth.
Smith hit Lastings Milledge in the right forearm with a pitch in the eighth, which induced a vulgar chant from the Shea Stadium crowd as the former Mets prospect cringed in pain while being attended to by a Nationals trainer and manager Manny Acta.
Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his second save, finishing the five-hitter.
Austin Kearns homered for Washington.
Looking to build on an eight-inning, one-run outing against Atlanta on Friday, Matt Chico stymied the New York bats through the first four innings. Wildly effective, he gave up Church’s homer in the first and two singles to Luis Castillo before allowing Reyes’ tying homer leading off the fifth.
Church then singled and David Wright hit a fading liner to center. Milledge tried to make a diving catch on Wright’s ball, but it bounced out of his glove for a single when he hit the grass. Beltran followed with a drive into the left-field bleachers for a 5-2 lead, his first home run in 44 at-bats this season.
“I don’t concern myself with home runs,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “It’s nice to see and I’ll take them, but when we come into the season it’s a small ball approach.”
Chico (0-3) struck out two of the next three but did not come out for the sixth. He gave up five runs and five hits, walking three and striking out five.
In an effort to jump-start the inert Washington offense, Acta moved .200-hitting Ronnie Belliard into the second spot from eighth, where he batted Tuesday, and put Milledge in the No. 5 spot after batting him second all season, saying he sees the speedy Milledge as a “run producer,” not just a run scorer.
The move paid off immediately. After Cristian Guzman walked leading off, Belliard moved him to third with a hit-and-run single to right, and Guzman scored on a sacrifice fly by Zimmerman.
“I thought we were going to score more runs—wasted opportunities. We just couldn’t finish opportunities,” Acta said afterward.
Kearns’ first homer made it 2-1 Washington in the fourth.
Maine allowed five hits and four walks. … The Mets held a moment of silence for 36-year-old Antonio Nararainsami, who fell off an escalator after Tuesday’s game and died. … Wright’s streak of homering in three straight games ended. … Before the start of the eighth inning, Acta and pitching coach Randy St. Claire visited Chad Cordero on he mound during warmups. Acta said they visited the mound because they “saw something” in Cordero. But Cordero, who recently returned from the disabled list, insisted his shoulder was fine. He said he didn’t have enough time to warmup. Acta said they were “just worried,” but added Jon Rauch will still be the closer until Cordero is pitching like a closer again. Cordero pitched a scoreless eighth in his first outing of the season.