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Beltran Perez lifts Nationals past Mets

Sep 26, 2006 - 2:11 AM FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- The New York Mets welcomed Carlos Beltran back to their lineup. But it was another relatively anonymous Beltran who gave them fits.

Rookie Beltran Perez overcame control problems to pitch 6 1/3 effective innings and Ryan Zimmerman delivered a bases-clearing double in the third inning as the Washington Nationals defeated the Mets, 7-3, in the finale of a four-game series.

"I like what I see of this man," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said of Perez. "He knows what to do and how to do it and he stays within his game. He knows his strengths."

Brian Schneider had four of the 14 hits for Washington, which won three times in the series.

The Mets lost for the eighth time in their last 11 games and played their final regular-season home contest of the year before hosting Game One of the National League Division Series on October 3 or 4. New York was 50-31 at Shea Stadium.

With the Mets having clinched the National League East title a week ago, the key issue Monday was the status of Beltran, their star center fielder who sat out the previous six games with a left quadriceps strain.

"I didn't feel any pain, just some heaviness in my leg," said Beltran, who hopes to start the remaining six games of the season. "I feel about 80 percent. Running the bases is what concerns me."

Beltran, however, had few chances to test the injury. He did not have a putout and he walked in his first three at-bats before grounding out in the eighth.

Perez (2-0), a native of the Dominican Republic who signed as a minor league free agent prior to the season, pitched six scoreless innings in his first major league start last week against Atlanta. The 24-year-old righthander also was impressive in this one, allowing two runs and four hits while walking six and striking out two.

"He made great adjustments," said Schneider, the Washington catcher. "When he wasn't located his fastball, he went to the changeup and he flew through innings."

Perez was not as concerned with his control problems.

"Three of the walks were to Beltran and I didn't want to pitch to him," Perez said through an interpreter.

Billy Traber recorded the final two outs of the seventh, Ryan Wagner pitched the eighth and Chad Cordero worked a 1-2-3 ninth.

Tom Glavine (14-7) was not particularly sharp in what will likely be his penultimate start before the playoffs. The veteran lefthander lost for the first time in five starts, allowing four runs three earned and eight hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out six.

"You can still go at a game that isn't do or die and play the game the right way," Glavine said. "I've never been one to believe you can just go through the motions and then just turn it on in the playoffs."

Perez reached on an infield single to open the third and, following a force play, Glavine walked Felipe Lopez and Alfonso Soriano. Zimmerman brought home three runs with a double to right-center field to give Washington a 3-1 lead.

Shawn Green homered in the bottom of the second for the Mets and drove in a second run with a groundout in the eighth.

Washington took a 4-2 lead in the sixth when Vidro doubled and later scored on a throwing error by catcher Paul Lo Duca.

Nationals center fielder Nook Logan, who made a spectacular running catch of a fly ball by Jose Reyes to end the second, had an RBI single in the eighth. The three-run inning also included a two-run single by Bernie Castro.

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