NEW YORK -- Jae Seo has been back in the major leagues less than two weeks. That's been long enough to earn Willie Randolph's trust.
Seo allowed four hits in eight innings to outpitch John Patterson, and Victor Diaz drove in the only run with a seventh-inning single Friday night as the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 1-0.
Jose Reyes tied career highs with four hits -- all singles -- and three stolen bases, helping the Mets take the opener of the three-game series between NL wild-card hopefuls. New York is 17-4 in series openers at home, tops in the majors.
"I had a feeling it was going to be a close game," Randolph said. "We're both fighting for our lives, basically."
Seo (5-1) improved to 3-0 since the Mets recalled him from Triple-A Norfolk earlier this month. He matched the longest outing of his career last Saturday in a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and has allowed one run and 13 hits in 23 1/3 innings since his return.
Had Diaz not driven in the run in the seventh, Randolph said he might have hit for Seo, the next batter. Instead, he didn't think twice about sending him back out for the eighth.
"He was pitching well," Randolph said. "I believe in pitchers winning and losing their own games. It's how you build character."
Seo rewarded Randolph's trust by pitching out of a jam in that inning. Vinny Castilla dropped a double down the right-field line leading off and Jamey Carroll sacrificed pinch-runner Cristian Guzman to third. Pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga walked, but Seo struck out Brad Wilkerson and got Jose Vidro to fly out.
"It definitely felt great that the manager had faith in me to send me out for the eighth inning," Seo said through an interpreter.
Braden Looper got the final three outs for his 24th save.
Seo was sent down in May and spent three months at Norfolk before returning to start on Aug. 6. Originally expected to be a short-term solution until Steve Trachsel returned from the disabled list, Seo has instead turned into the Mets' best pitcher of late.
"The big key for him is being able to use all his pitches," Randolph said. "He's got more to his arsenal."
Patterson (7-4) lost for the first time this month, allowing seven hits in seven innings. He had won all three starts in August, giving up four earned runs in 22 2/3 innings.
"I'm really not that frustrated," Patterson said. "I pitched good tonight and I did my job. Jae Seo pitched a good game, too. You've got to give him a little credit, too."
Patterson took a shutout into the seventh before Ramon Castro doubled into the left-field corner with one out and scored when Diaz -- who had been 0-for-10 on the homestand -- singled to right-center.
Preston Wilson had three hits for the Nationals, who missed a chance to take the lead in the wild-card race after Philadelphia lost. The Mets moved up after starting play three games back.
"We did nothing offensively to win that ballgame," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "You can't gain ground on anyone by losing."
Wilson led off the second with a double and moved to third on a groundout. After Seo hit Castilla with a pitch, Carroll bunted foul on a squeeze attempt. Seo then struck out and Patterson flied out.
"We just don't get the big, tough hit," Robinson said. "We just don't do it. We don't get the fly ball."
That started a dominant stretch for Seo, who faced the minimum 15 batters from the third through the seventh. Wilson's singles accounted for the only baserunners in that span, but he was thrown out trying to steal second in the fourth and was erased on a double play in the seventh.
- Nationals C Brian Schneider had thrown out an NL-high 21 of 58 base stealers (36 percent) but the Mets had four against him, including three in the first. He threw out David Wright in the fourth.
- Seo improved to 1-7 in 11 appearances against the Expos/Nationals franchise.
- The Mets have won 13 of their last 17 home games.