NEW YORK (AP)—Odalis Perez trudged off the mound without a hint of a smile, taking a slow walk to the Washington dugout and blowing into his cold hands. Not the typical body language one would expect from a pitcher who was about to earn his first win of the season.
Well, this wasn’t a typical start for Perez.
“It wasn’t the best way to get it. It was a struggle,” Perez said. “It wasn’t easy in those early innings I wasn’t making a lot of good pitches but the offense was helping me, and even me helping myself.”
On an unusually chilly night with winds gusting to more than 20 mph, Jesus Flores and Lastings Milledge each had two-run doubles and Washington ended a three-game slide by first taking advantage of Nelson Figueroa’s wildness then doing something they haven’t been able to all season: get hits with runners on base.
“We know, ordinarily, Nelson has pretty good control. Our guys didn’t chase, especially those sliders just off the plate,” Washington manager Manny Acta said. “He wasn’t throwing enough strikes and we were able to take advantage.”
The Nationals came in hitting a major league-worst .237 with men on base and scored their first six runs on just five hits—and five walks, two hit batters and two errors. They scored their first three runs on a sacrifice fly, bases-loaded walk and a throwing error by Figueroa (2-3), who was attempting to make a play at the plate on Felipe Lopez’s tapper to the mound in the third.
After getting the third out of the third inning, Figueroa turned toward the Nationals dugout and made a mock clapping gesture into his glove in response to what he perceived was the Washington bench’s rhythmic clapping for his walk and error during the inning.
Figueroa was not happy afterward.
“They were cheering in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls,” he said. “I am a professional, I take great offense to that. … They won tonight, but in the long run, look who they are, a last-place team.”
Milledge defended his teammates: “We didn’t try to rattle him. We’re trying to get our guys going.”
Lopez, on the other hand, dismissed Figueroa’s complaints.
“If he’s worried about the dugout, he should be worried about the catcher,” he said. “We won because we got in his head.”
In the fifth and sixth innings, the Nationals got five run-scoring hits when they scored seven runs to open a 10-3 lead.
Making his 200th career start, Perez (1-3) gave up a season-high 11 hits and four runs—more than two runs for just the third time—but Washington scored at least four runs in one of his starts for just the second time this year.
Perez led off the third with a single and scored on a bases-loaded walk, and had RBI singles in the fifth and sixth, when Washington batted around for four runs off reliever Jorge Sosa. His sacrifice in the third put runners on second and third before Figueroa made his throwing error. He finished 3-for-3.
“I was lucky,” Perez said. “I saw three, like, cookies in the middle of the plate and I swung.”
Before the game, Mets manager Willie Randolph praised the Mets as looking “hitterish,” and they did, getting at least 11 hits—12 Monday—for the fifth time in six games, but they left 11 runners on base.
“(We) just have to do a better job capitalizing,” on the his, Randolph said.
Damion Easley homered to center in the second, his first since Aug. 18 at Washington. He was filling in for Luis Castillo, who strained his left quadriceps running out a triple Sunday. Castillo is day to day. Easley added an RBI single in the third to give New York a 3-2 lead.
Figueroa gave up six runs—four earned—and five hits in five innings. He struck out four.
“Walk to this guy, that guy and the other guy … it was a very frustrating night,” Figueroa said.
Randolph was noncommittal on whether he would alter his rotation so ace Johan Santana could start Friday at Yankee Stadium in the opener of the weekend Subway Series. The way the rotation is set up now, Santana is set to start Thursday against the Nationals and Mike Pelfrey against the Yankees on Friday. … Mets reliever Matt Wise returned to Florida to get in more work before he is activated from the disabled list. On the DL since April 2 with a bruised right arm, Wise joined the team in New York on Friday but was never activated. … Nats 1B Nick Johnson scored three runs. … Washington scored 10 or more runs for the third time this season.