Mets 5, Nationals 2
WASHINGTON (AP)—Still making adjustments after all these years, Tom Glavine is still picking up wins, too.
Glavine carried a shutout into the sixth inning for his 274th career win, David Wright’s grand slam capped a five-run first off Livan Hernandez, and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 Saturday night.
The Mets (77-77) have won six of their last eight games, and if they complete a series sweep Sunday, they’ll move up to fourth place in the NL East and drop the Nationals (78-77) into last.
Both teams will be eliminated from playoff contention with one more loss.
“If there was ever a time I’d like to be going to the playoffs, it’d be now, the way I’m pitching,” said Glavine, who is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA his last two starts. “Unfortunately, we may not get that chance unless something spectacular happens. But there’s obviously satisfaction in the way that I’ve pitched.”
Washington, a loser of six of its past seven, started a lineup filled with rookies and reserves, and manager Frank Robinson said before the game that he’ll rest most regulars the rest of the way.
That gives room for players such as Ryan Zimmerman, drafted No. 4 overall in June, and now starting for Vinny Castilla at third base. Zimmerman went 3-for-4, giving him eight hits in the last three games and putting his average at .483.
“He’s very impressive so far,” Robinson said, “but three, four, five ballgames does not make a season.”
Glavine relied on just a sinker and curveball much of last season, but now the 39-year-old lefty is mixing in a lot more. And he looks more confident.
“His body language is different,” said manager Willie Randolph, ejected along with Jose Reyes in the seventh after the shortstop struck out. “And that’s what happens when you pitch well and you’re producing. And that’s the Tommy Glavine I remember for a lot of years.”
Glavine (12-13) gave up two runs and four hits in eight innings, retiring 14 straight batters at one point. He also hit two singles, while taking over sole possession of 29th place on the majors’ career victory list.
Roberto Hernandez pitched the ninth for only his second save in eight chances.
The evening began bleakly for Washington, when Reyes hit a sinking ball to left, and rookie outfielder Brandon Watson lost the ball in the lights, then tried to make a sliding catch but dropped it. It was a ruled a double, and when Miguel Cairo tried to bunt Reyes over, Hernandez fielded the ball and threw in time to first. But Tony Blanco—a rookie making his first start at first base — dropped the ball for the first of his two errors.
“I just missed the ball,” Blanco said.
“I needed to come with something in the middle,” Hernandez said, “because I didn’t want to walk him.”
The result: A 2-0 fastball that Wright drove off the facing of the mezzanine in left-center for his 22nd homer of the season and second career grand slam.
“I put a good swing on it,” Wright said.
So, 11 minutes and 18 pitches in, it was 5-0. Hernandez (15-9) left after eight innings, having allowed six hits and four earned runs.
Glavine gave up two runs in the sixth, which featured Hernandez’s second career triple, when right fielder Anderson misjudged the ball and stumbled as it sailed past him. Hernandez slowed to a walk approaching first base, then started running until he was able to jog into third.
Watson followed with an RBI single. Zimmerman made it 5-2 by driving a ball off the top of the wall in left for a double, his second hit off Glavine.
“Just being in the same sentence as him is fun,” Zimmerman said.
Nationals first basemen made a total of seven errors in 154 games entering Saturday. Asked whether Blanco will get another chance, Robinson said: “Next question.” … Blanco’s bat sailed into the stands on a swing-and-miss in the seventh and was caught by a fan sitting five rows behind the Nationals dugout. The fan received another bat in exchange, and Blanco got his back to finish the at-bat.