Perez dominates slumping MetsSep 17, 2008 - 4:00 AM By Rich Dubroff PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- The New York Mets appear headed toward another September swoon.
Odalis Perez baffled the Mets for 7 1/3 innings and scored on a double by Cristian Guzman as the Washington Nationals posted a 1-0 victory on Tuesday.
Perez (7-10) allowed four hits with six strikeouts and four walks. At the plate, he doubled off Mike Pelfrey (13-10) in the fifth before scoring on Guzman's hit.
The veteran lefthander also silenced the Mets' top hitters, as David Wright, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran combined to go 1-for-12. The trio has collected a total of one hit in its last 23 at-bats.
"We've just got to do a better job, period, offensively," New York manager Jerry Manuel said. "I think at some point, when the bats do what they're supposed to do, it'll take a lot of pressure off the pitchers, no question."
New York's big bats are slumping at a bad time.
The Mets (83-67), who have lost three straight and four of five, fell out of first place for the first time since August 26. They trail the Philadelphia Phillies (84-67), who beat Atlanta on Tuesday, by one-half game.
Still, New York holds a one-half game lead over Milwaukee (83-68) in the wild card race after the Brewers lost to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.
"This is a little bump in the road," Wright said. "It does not matter what Philadelphia does. It's about what the New York Mets do."
Last season, the Mets let a seven-game lead with 17 to play slip away and have been dealing with questions about the historic collapse over the past few days. Manuel called a team meeting prior to this contest, but it did not seem to help.
"I think he's the leader of this team," Wright said. "If he feels he has something to say, I'm glad he got it off his chest. I think a lot of times, these meetings are overhyped. When your leader has something to say, he calls a meeting and says it."
New York wasted a solid effort from Pelfrey, who does not believe there are any lingering effects from last season.
"The only time anybody ever thinks about that is when you guys (in the media) bring it up," said Pelfrey, who allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. "It happened last year. I feel the atmosphere of the team is totally different. Nobody's worrying about that, nobody's playing and thinking about last year."
But Washington, which contributed to New York's meltdown last season, is doing its best to play spoiler again. The Nationals have won seven straight here against the Mets in the month of September.
For the second straight night, a Nationals' pitcher was extremely stingy.
On Monday, John Lannan allowed just one hit in seven innings of a 7-2 win. In this one, Perez surrendered just two singles over the first seven innings - one by Wright in the first and another by Brian Schneider in the sixth.
In between, he retired 13 straight.
Perez also helped the Nationals score the lone run of the game. With two outs, he hit a fly ball toward left fielder Fernando Tatis, who dived for the ball but came up empty as it skipped past him for a double.
Willie Harris walked and Guzman followed with a ground-rule double to score Perez.
"I'm not saying I'm a good hitter because I'm hitting (.160)," Perez said. "It's just lucky to put that one in play. It dropped for a base hit, a double. I'm happy because I'm getting on base."
Tatis left the game with a separated right shoulder suffered during his attempt to catch Perez's fly ball and will miss the rest of the season.
In the eighth, Perez allowed one-out singles by pinch hitters Ramon Castro and Robinson Cancel. Michael Hinckley came on and got Jose Reyes to hit into a forceout before striking out Ryan Church to end the inning.
Joel Hanrahan pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save.
While the Mets are playing for their post-season lives, the Nationals (58-93) are just trying to avoid a 100-loss campaign - a dubious distinction Harris wants to avert.
"Those guys are playing to get to the postseason," Harris said. "We're playing not to lose 100 games. We're playing for something, too."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
NY METS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1
WASHINGTON 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 x 1 7 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: NYM - MIKE PELFREY, JOE SMITH (8TH) AND BRIAN SCHNEIDER, ROBINSON
WAS - ODALIS PEREZ, MIKE HINCKLEY (8TH), JOEL HANRAHAN
(9TH) AND WIL NIEVES
Sep 16 9:48 PM
AT WASHINGTON - SCORING UPDATE
GROUND RULE DOUBLE BY CRISTIAN GUZMAN SCORED ODALIS PEREZ.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C GUZMAN ON SECOND, W HARRIS ON THIRD, 2 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: NY METS 0
WASHINGTON 1 BOTTOM, 5TH
DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: R ZIMMERMAN (.285, 0-FOR-2)
Mets 0, Nationals 1 Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 16 8:30 PM
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