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Trachsel struggles in postseason audition

Sep 24, 2006 - 8:57 PM FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- As far as postseason auditions go, Steve Trachsel's was not great. But it was slightly better than John Maine's and appears to be an non-issue for the New York Mets.

Trachsel failed to get past the sixth inning as the Mets were handed a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals in the third contest of a four-game series.

Trachsel (15-8) leads the team in wins, partially a result of good run support and injuries to starters Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine. Despite those factors, Mets manager Willie Randolph has confidence in him.

"My perspective is not the same way yours (the media) is with Steve," Randolph said. "He's been one of our best pitchers this year. We'll consider all our guys and we'll make the decision when we get there.

"I don't look at it like every time he's on trial or he has to show me everything. I know what Steve Trachsel can do."

The 35-year-old righthander is one behind Carlos Zambrano, Brandon Webb and Brad Penny for the National League lead in victories. However, Trachsel's numbers are hardly the caliber of those pitchers, having allowed 185 hits in 164 2/3 innings.

Trachsel has had his moments, such as the 6 1/3 solid innings he pitched in Monday's division clincher. He also has had plenty of outings like Sunday's, when he allowed three runs and eight hits in five-plus innings.

However, he may get the nod as New York's fourth starter behind Martinez, Glavine and Orlando Hernandez because Maine has cooled off considerably. The 25-year-old gave up four runs, three hits and five walks in Saturday's 12-6 win.

Both Trachsel, who never has made a postseason start, and Randolph both scoffed at the idea that the pitcher was auditioning for a spot.

"Tryouts are for spring training," Trachsel said. "If 15 wins is not enough, then I don't know what else to tell you."

"I don't look at Steve Trachsel like he's auditioning for a spot," Randolph said. "We're going to wait and see and what we have, who we play and then we'll talk about that towards the end of the season."

Trachsel's day ended after rookie Ryan Zimmerman's double with none out in the sixth scored Alfonso Soriano for a 3-1 lead.

Trachsel also gave up a sacrifice fly to Soriano in the first and allowed a run on Washington starter Tony Armas' double-play grounder in the second.

"Obviously he wasn't as efficient as he wanted to be," Randolph said. "But overall he gave up three runs in five innings and the pitch count (92) was up a little bit. I feel for the most part, he did OK."

With the exception of Saturday's win, the Mets have struggled to score recently. Their only run came on Jose Valentin's 18th homer in the fifth, and Sunday marked the seventh time in 10 games they were held to three runs or less.

Armas (9-12), who had been 0-4 in six starts since August 18, allowed one run and five hits in six innings. He struck out four without a walk.

Soriano drove in Washington's first run, collected his 41st double and notched his major league-leading 22nd outfield assist when the left fielder threw out Cliff Floyd at second in the fourth.

"That's what he's done all year for us," Washington manager Frank Robinson said. "He doesn't always have to hit a home run to help this ballclub."

Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson underwent successful surgery on his broken leg. His teammates paid tribute to him by wearing their socks high and hanging his jersey in the dugout.

"We miss the guy," Washington catcher Brian Schneider said. "We're thinking about him, that's for sure."

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