Maine (6-5) got deep enough to get the decision despite being held to 75 pitches in his second start after a three-month stint on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder. He allowed two singles and a walk, throwing 50 strikes in his crisp performance.
“They were up there swinging, not many foul balls today,” Maine said. “They did put it in play and they did help me out. They helped me get five innings out of my pitch count.”
Nationals manager Jim Riggleman saw the same thing, and chided his team for its effort in a brief postgame talk.
“It was just a lackluster performance,” Riggleman said. “We can’t have that. That’s not acceptable. You just can’t play with a lack of intensity at this point because it’ll show up.”
Angel Pagan(notes) finished with three hits for New York, which won two of three in the weekend series between the bottom two teams in the NL East. Carlos Beltran(notes) had an RBI single after resting Saturday and Wilson Valdez(notes) added a two-run triple in the ninth.
Maine earned his first win since he threw six shutout innings in a 3-2 victory over Florida on May 31. He was activated last Sunday at Philadelphia and yielded one run and two hits over three innings in a 5-4 loss.
“I still don’t feel like I have I guess 100 percent strength back there as far as pitching-wise but it doesn’t hurt,” Maine said, “and I felt better today so that’s always a good sign.”
Maine, Elmer Dessens(notes), Sean Green(notes) and Brian Stokes(notes) combined to retire 12 straight batters before Washington rallied in the ninth. Ryan Zimmerman(notes) had an RBI double and scored on Adam Dunn’s(notes) single.
Stokes struck out Josh Willingham(notes) for the second out but walked Elijah Dukes(notes) to put runners on first and second. Manager Jerry Manuel then brought in Francisco Rodriguez(notes), who threw a called third strike past pinch-hitter Cristian Guzman(notes) for his 33rd save.
Washington’s best opportunity against Maine came in the fifth, when Willingham led off with a single and advanced to third on Alberto Gonzalez’s(notes) one-out liner to center. Maine then struck out Jamie Burke(notes) and retired pitcher Garrett Mock(notes) on a bouncer to second to end the inning.
“He elevated his fastball as he always does,” Zimmerman said. “It’s tough to lay off. He sneaks it by you.”
Maine improved to 8-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 career starts against the Nationals, his most wins against any opponent. Manuel said his pitch count will be around 90 for his next start, depending on how he feels Monday.
“I thought he had a little more life on the fastball, which is what we were hoping for,” Manuel said. “He was able to command it as well, which is a good thing.”
Mock (3-9) allowed four runs and nine hits in seven innings, dropping to 0-4 with a 7.00 ERA in five starts since his last win on Aug. 25 at Wrigley Field.
Murphy keyed the Mets’ offense for the second consecutive day. He started the second with a triple and scored when Josh Thole’s(notes) one-out grounder glanced off Mock for an infield hit. Murphy added a two-run double, also to right-center, in New York’s three-run third.
Murphy is batting .347 (17 for 49) with two homers and 11 RBIs in his last 13 games. He drove in two runs in New York’s 3-2 victory Saturday.
“I think I’m just trying to square the ball up as many times as I can and, especially to right-center, this park rewards you for that,” Murphy said. “There’s a lot of extra-base hits out there if you swing at a good pitch and put a good swing on it.”
NOTES: Manuel said Beltran probably won’t play in a day game after a night game for the rest of the season. “How many in a row he plays, that’s still questionable, too,” Manuel said. Beltran was activated from the disabled list Sept. 8 after being sidelined for 2 1/2 months with a bone bruise on his right knee. … Burke made his first start at catcher since he was acquired from Seattle on Thursday. He went 0 for 1 with a walk before Pete Orr(notes) hit for him in the eighth. … Castillo was shaken up but stayed in after he was hit on his left shoulder by Burke’s throw when he stole second in the fifth.