The Nationals know they aren't always baseball's prettiest team, and sight of grown men in miniskirts, halter tops and humiliating hemlines helped drive that point home.
Still, there's nothing unsightly about the way Washington has fashioned itself into a playoff contender.
Vinny Castilla drove in the go-ahead run with two outs in the 10th inning after Braden Looper and the Mets' sloppy defense blew a ninth-inning lead, and the Nationals beat New York 6-5 Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.
"People outside of here don't think we can do it," Castilla said. "We're still here."
The Nationals, who began the day three games behind Florida and Philadelphia in the wild-card race, swept a road series for the second time in a month. They open a three-game set at NL West leader San Diego on Friday.
The Nationals have played 57 one-run games, the most in the majors, and this was only the third time since the All-Star break they've put together a winning streak of longer than two games.
"This might be the one we needed to put us over the top before this thing is over," manager Frank Robinson said.
Cliff Floyd hit a grand slam and Jose Reyes also homered for the Mets, who have lost 15 of 18.
"We can't feel pity for ourselves, cause the opponents don't," losing pitcher Roberto Hernandez said. "We're trying to beat them and they're trying to beat us."
Hernandez (6-6) walked Nick Johnson to open the 10th, Wilson followed with his fourth hit of the game to move Johnson to third, and Castilla singled to right with two outs.
"That's what it's all about this time of year," Wilson said. "You just have to outlast everybody. Everybody's tired, everybody's team is beat up and banged up, and you've just got to outlast them. Today we did pretty good at doing that."
Floyd's grand slam in the fifth gave New York a 5-4 lead. Takatsu and Heilman combined for six strikeouts over the next three innings before the Nationals tied it in the ninth against Looper, who has blown saves seven times in 35 chances.
Pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman singled to right, taking second when the ball got past Gerald Williams for an error. Pinch-runner Kenny Kelly went to third on a groundout before Looper hit pinch-hitter Jose Guillen with a pitch. With the infield in, second baseman Kaz Matsui let Brad Wilkerson's grounder go under his glove for another error, tying the game. Looper kept it tied by getting Jamey Carroll to bounce into a double play with runners at the corners.
Miguel Cairo made his second career start in right field, and the Nationals seemed to be aiming for him in the first. After Wilkerson's leadoff single to center, the rest of the balls put in play in the inning all went to right.
Carroll's slicing hit fell in front of a diving Cairo for a double, and after Johnson struck out, Wilson dropped in a bloop single to score two runs. Ryan Church's single put runners on the corners and Castilla's sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
Consecutive one-out singles by pinch-hitter Mike Jacobs, Reyes and Matsui off Livan Hernandez loaded the bases in the fifth. Carlos Beltran popped out, but Floyd lined a 3-2 pitch over the right-field fence for his fifth career grand slam and a 5-4 lead.
"The home run doesn't mean jack," Floyd said. "You still have to come back and play and make the plays when they have men in scoring position."
|Vinny Castilla drives in the go-ahead run in the 10th and finishes the day 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Brad Wilkerson, LF||5||1||1||1||0||1||1||.251|
|Jamey Carroll, 2B||3||1||2||0||1||0||1||.247|
|a- Carlos Baerga, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.253|
|Deivi Cruz, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.268|
|Nick Johnson, 1B||4||1||0||0||1||1||3||.289|
|Preston Wilson, CF||5||1||4||2||0||1||0||.261|
|Ryan Church, RF||5||0||1||0||0||3||3||.293|
|Vinny Castilla, 3B||4||0||2||2||0||2||1||.251|
|Gary Bennett, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.222|
|b- Ryan Zimmerman, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.375|
|Kenny Kelly, PR||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.364|
|Keith Osik, C||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000|
|Cristian Guzman, SS||4||1||2||1||0||1||1||.204|
|Livan Hernandez, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.250|
|Joey Eischen, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Travis Hughes, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike Stanton, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Jose Guillen, PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.293|
|Brandon Watson, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.207|
|Jason Bergmann, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Gary Majewski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-grounded into a double play for Carroll in the 9th|
|b-singled for Bennett in the 9th|
|c-hit by pitch for Stanton in the 9th|
|2B - Jamey Carroll (6, Seo)|
|HR - Cristian Guzman (4, Seo)|
|SF - Vinny Castilla (4)|
|SH - Livan Hernandez (13)|
|RBI - Brad Wilkerson (55), Preston Wilson 2 (82), Vinny Castilla 2 (66), Cristian Guzman (22)|
|2-OUT RBI - Vinny Castilla (36)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Jason Bergmann (W,2-0)||1||1||0||0||0||2||0||2.84|
|Gary Majewski (S,1)||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||2.69|
|IBB - Beltran by Joey Eischen, by Wright|
|Pitches-Strikes - Livan Hernandez 96-57, Joey Eischen 17-5, Travis Hughes 9-7, Mike Stanton 10-7, Jason Bergmann 15-12, Gary Majewski 17-14|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Livan Hernandez 5-12, Joey Eischen 1-0, Travis Hughes 1-0, Mike Stanton 1-0, Gary Majewski 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Livan Hernandez 28, Joey Eischen 4, Travis Hughes 3, Mike Stanton 2, Jason Bergmann 4, Gary Majewski 4|
|New York Mets|
|Jose Reyes, SS||4||2||2||1||1||0||1||.275|
|Kaz Matsui, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.256|
|Carlos Beltran, CF||4||0||1||0||1||0||3||.272|
|Cliff Floyd, LF||5||1||1||4||0||3||3||.274|
|David Wright, 3B||4||0||2||0||1||1||1||.312|
|Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B||3||0||1||0||0||0||2||.241|
|a- Mike Piazza, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||3||.259|
|Gerald Williams, RF||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Ramon Castro, C||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.255|
|Miguel Cairo, RF-1B||5||0||1||0||0||0||3||.245|
|Jae Seo, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.083|
|b- Mike Jacobs, PH||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.300|
|Shingo Takatsu, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Jose Offerman, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.220|
|Aaron Heilman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|d- Marlon Anderson, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.260|
|Braden Looper, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Roberto Hernandez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|e- Victor Diaz, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.261|
|a-grounded out for Mientkiewicz in the 7th|
|b-singled for Seo in the 5th|
|c-flied out for Takatsu in the 6th|
|d-struck out for Heilman in the 8th|
|e-struck out for Hernandez in the 10th|
|2B - David Wright (40, Hernandez)|
|HR - Jose Reyes (7, Hernandez), Cliff Floyd (30, Hernandez)|
|SH - Kaz Matsui (4), Ramon Castro (3)|
|RBI - Jose Reyes (56), Cliff Floyd 4 (89)|
|2-OUT RBI - Cliff Floyd 4 (42)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|Outfield Assists - Cliff Floyd 1, Gerald Williams 1|
|DP - Matsui-Reyes-Mientkiewicz, Reyes-Cairo|
|E - Kaz Matsui (9, Misplayed grounder), Gerald Williams (1, Misplayed batted ball)|
|New York Mets|
|Shingo Takatsu (H,4)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||5.18|
|Aaron Heilman (H,5)||2||0||0||0||1||4||0||3.48|
|Braden Looper (BS,7)||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||3.51|
|Roberto Hernandez (L,6-6)||1||2||1||1||1||0||0||2.63|
|HBP - Guillen (by Braden Looper)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jae Seo 95-64, Shingo Takatsu 15-11, Aaron Heilman 27-16, Braden Looper 20-13, Roberto Hernandez 17-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jae Seo 5-4, Shingo Takatsu 1-0, Aaron Heilman 1-0, Braden Looper 3-0, Roberto Hernandez 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Jae Seo 24, Shingo Takatsu 3, Aaron Heilman 6, Braden Looper 5, Roberto Hernandez 5|
|Attendance - 21441|
|Game Time - 3:35|
|Temperature - 85|
|Umpires - Home - Joe Brinkman, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Jeff Nelson, Third Base - Bill Miller|