Maine blanks Nationals as Beltran, Mets hold onApr 29, 2007 - 10:59 PM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- John Maine's gem was saved by Carlos Beltran's blast.
Maine worked seven outstanding innings and Beltran belted his team-leading fifth homer as the New York Mets squeaked out a 1-0 triumph over the Washington Nationals.
It was the eighth victory in the last 12 games for the Mets, who improved to 3-2 this season against their National League East Division rival. New York managed just two runs over the first 11 innings Saturday before exploding in the 12th for a 6-2 triumph.
The Mets fared even worse a day later against Washington's Jason Bergmann, who allowed only one run, two hits and three walks with six strikeouts in seven frames. But thanks to the hard-throwing Maine, New York did not need much offense.
Acquired in January 2006 from the Baltimore Orioles, Maine showed flashes of promise in limited action with the Mets last season, going 6-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 16 games - 15 starts.
That success has more than carried over into this season, as Maine (4-0) owns an impressive 1.35 ERA over his first five outings, striking out 30 in 33 1/3 innings. The righthander allowed three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts Sunday.
"He showed me again he's getting better and better," New York manager Willie Randolph said. "Each time out, he's stronger and stronger."
Despite the tremendous effort from Maine, New York could not make it stand up until the sixth inning, when Beltran crushed Bergmann's 0-1 offering over the wall in right field to make it 1-0.
"It was a pitch up and high," Beltran said. "In that situation, I wasn't thinking about trying to hit a home run."
It was Beltran's first homer in 37 at-bats, a string of nearly nine games. The homer proved to be vital for the Mets, who managed only one hit the rest of the way and ran into trouble on a pair of occasions in the late innings.
Maine worked his way out of a jam in the bottom of the seventh, when a double, walk and forceout on a failed sacrifice placed runners at first and second with one out. But the righthander struck out Chris Snelling and pinch hitter Robert Fick to preserve the 1-0 lead.
First baseman Julio Franco made a terrific play on Jesus Flores' sacrifice attempt, fielding the bunt in front of the mound and firing to third to force Austin Kearns.
"(Franco) made a heck of a play," Maine said. "Great effort on the bunt. Good confidence boost right there. He told me, 'Get the bunt down, and I'll get him.' Julio was charging the whole time."
The Nationals threatened again in the eighth, ripping a pair of singles to open the frame against reliever Aaron Heilman. After Ryan Zimmerman struck out, Dmitri Young flied out to the warning track in right field, allowing Felipe Lopez to advance to third.
Heilman walked Kearns to load the bases, prompting Randolph to replace the righthander with lefthander Scott Schoeneweis, who induced Ryan Church to ground out to end the inning.
Star closer Billy Wagner worked around a leadoff hit in the ninth to record his fourth save, improving his ERA to 0.82.
"I couldn't tell you when the last time I got a save," Wagner said. "They come in bunches. The Nationals came out and gave us everything we wanted and more."
After yielding a leadoff single to Jose Reyes in the opening frame, Bergmann (0-2) did not allow a hit until Beltran's homer. The righthander enjoyed a stretch bridging the first and sixth innings when he retired 16 of 18 batters, allowing just a pair of walks.
A long shot to make the rotation in spring training, Bergmann has been a pleasant surprise this season for Washington, posting a 2.79 ERA over his first five starts. The 25-year-old has surrendered a total of just five earned runs over his last four outings.
"We want to keep the team in the game," Bergmann said. "We don't try to throw complete games and shutouts. You have to tip your hat to Maine. He threw a (great) game."
Washington manager Manny Acta offered words of praise for Bergmann, who hasn't won since September 2005.
"He did a terrific job," Acta said. "I'm very proud of the kid. He's had four games in a row where he's pitched completely out of his mind."
Ronnie Belliard had three hits for the Nationals, who have lost six of their last eight games.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
NY METS 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 0
WASHINGTON 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: NYM - JOHN MAINE, AARON HEILMAN (8TH), SCOTT SCHOENEWEIS (8TH),
BILLY WAGNER (9TH) AND RAMON CASTRO
WAS - JASON BERGMANN, MICAH BOWIE (8TH), JESUS COLOME
Apr 29 4:16 PM
AT WASHINGTON - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY CARLOS BELTRAN (5) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN
THE 6TH OFF JASON BERGMANN.
CURRENT SCORE: NY METS 1, WASHINGTON 0
DUE UP FOR NY METS: M ALOU (.358, 0-FOR-2)
Mets vs. NationalsApr 29 2:56 PM
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