“I told Reck I was feeling good in BP,” Byrd said. “And I was joking around with him, I said, `Hey, if I get some pitches tonight, I’m going to hit two home runs.”’
Sure enough, Byrd planted a pair beyond the left-field wall Wednesday night, maintaining his mastery of Dan Haren as the New York Mets snapped a four-game skid with a 10-1 rout of the Washington Nationals.
“That’s teammates talking trash,” Byrd said. “And that it happened is something crazy. It doesn’t happen too much, I’ll tell you that.”
The win put the Mets above .400 and the Nationals below .500—a succinct reflection of the mixed fortunes of both clubs—and also dropped preseason favorite Washington to third place behind Philadelphia in the NL East. The Nationals trail division-leading Atlanta by eight games.
For the Mets, it was their best run output since early April, a rare comfortable win in a challenging season.
“We needed one very bad,” manager Terry Collins said. “We have certainly been in our share of close games all year, on both ends of it. To have a game where we just take a deep breath and relax a little bit was certainly welcomed and needed.”
Byrd hit a two-run homer in the second and a solo shot in the third, making him 10 for 18 in his career against Haren (4-7). David Wright in a 1-for-18 slump entering the game, also homered in the third inning and singled and scored in New York’s two-run fifth.
Recker doubled his season RBI total from three to six with a pair of hits, and rookie center fielder Juan Lagares had his first three-hit game in the majors.
Even pitcher Dillon Gee joined in the hitting fun. When he singled in the seventh, it meant that all nine Mets starters had at least one hit.
On the mound, Gee (4-6) allowed one run over seven innings in his second consecutive solid start after his spot in the rotation had been put in doubt by a series of short outings. The run came in the first inning when Byrd misplayed a double by Denard Span who then scored on a single by Ian Desmond
“I can’t be satisfied,” Gee said. “I’ve got to continue to do it. It feels good to do it again, give the team a chance to win, but the guys did an awesome job, scored a bunch of runs.”
The Nationals felt buoyed by a ninth-inning comeback in the series opener Tuesday, the first time they had come from behind to win this season when trailing after the sixth inning. Manager Davey Johnson was clean-shaven Wednesday, ending a razor boycott he had said would last until his team started hitting.
But Washington’s bats remained cold. The Nationals scored 11 runs while hitting .197 with 42 strikeouts over six games. They had men on second and third with one out in the fourth inning, but Span struck out swinging and Jayson Werth struck out looking.
“Boy, it’s been difficult,” Johnson said. “But it seems like they were swinging the bats a little bit better tonight. Just didn’t hit with men on base. It’s frustrating.”
The Nationals lost for the ninth time by six or more runs, passing last year’s total of eight with more than 100 games to go.
Meanwhile, the starting rotation that has performed so well is showing some cracks. Stephen Strasburg sidelined with a strained back muscle, joined Ross Detwiler on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday.
And Haren? His ERA is now 5.45.
“I feel bad for the guys, letting them down. I can’t be this inconsistent,” he said. “I’m the same guy five days ago that went through one of the toughest lineups in baseball and kept us there. And then lay another egg tonight. It’s just—I gotta be better.”
NOTES: Black smoke was visible beyond the right-field bleachers throughout the game, the result of a fire at a hardware store about a mile away. The smoke wafted over the dome of the nearby U.S. Capitol nearby but did not drift over the ballpark and had no effect on the game. … Nationals LHP Ian Krol made his major league debut by pitching a scoreless sixth, and Anthony Rendon made his first major league start at second base, taking over the position now that Danny Espinosa is on the DL. … Mets LHP Jonathon Niese threw a bullpen session and said he feels on target to return to the rotation Saturday after missing one start with a sore shoulder. … Collins said RHP Jeurys Familia might be done for the season after having surgery to remove bone spurs and loose bodies in the right elbow. “I don’t think we’ll have him this year,” Collins said.
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