Two finesse pitchers who wear No. 47 faced each other Friday night, and the visiting veteran was more at home than the home team's rookie. Facing a franchise he has beaten more than any other, Glavine allowed one run over seven innings in the New York Mets' 6-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Glavine (11-6) beat the former Montreal Expos for the 33rd time, including the sixth time since the team moved to the nation's capital in 2005. He is 4-1 with a 2.09 ERA in six starts at RFK Stadium.
"I was mixing my pitches pretty well, perhaps as well as I have all year," Glavine said. "I needed to pitch deep in the game to give our bullpen a break. That was my biggest goal coming into the game."
The entire Mets team has grown to like the old ballpark, which is hosting baseball for the final season. New York is 18-5 at RFK and will improve to 7-0 in series if it wins one more game this weekend.
"It's always tough to explain," manager Willie Randolph said. "It's a big ballpark, but we find some holes."
The Nationals haven't been getting nearly enough work out of their starting pitchers, and Chico (5-7) kept the trend alive by lasting just 4 1/3 laborious innings. He walked five and had three-ball counts on four other batters. It was the fifth straight start in which he has pitched five or fewer innings, and he has walked 20 batters in his last 24 innings.
After the game, Chico learned he was pitching to stay in the majors. The Nationals needed to make a roster move to make room for outfielder Wily Mo Pena, who was acquired earlier in the day in a trade with Boston.
So the Nationals optioned Chico, the only Nationals starter to begin the season in the rotation and not miss a turn, to Triple-A Columbus.
"To be honest, I wasn't all that shocked," said Chico, who has only two wins in nearly three months. "I haven't been pitching all that great. It might be better for me if I go down and get my head on straight and just worry about location. That's it."
Damion Easley and Moises Alou homered off Chico, Jose Reyes stole his 61st and 62nd bases and started an acrobatic double play, and Mike DiFelice hit his first triple in three years as the first-place Mets maintained a three-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East.
Glavine allowed eight hits, struck out six and walked one to move into sole possession of 21st place on the all-time majors win list, ahead of Lefty Grove and Early Wynn. Glavine has 2,555 career strikeouts, tying him with Tim Keefe for 27th.
Easley hit his 10th homer to lead off the second inning, and Alou got his ninth leading off the fourth. In between, Reyes caused his usual havoc on the bases, stealing second and moving on to third on an errant throw by catcher Brian Schneider before scoring on David Wright's single.
The Mets added another run in the fourth when Easley walked on scored on DiFelice's sacrifice fly. DiFelice, who had only one RBI for the season entering the game, knocked in two more with a two-run triple in the eighth.
The Nationals' only run off Glavine came in the third inning, when Dmitri Young doubled to drive home Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who went 3-for-4, scored again in the eighth on a single by Austin Kearns.
The Mets' highlight-reel double play came in the bottom of the fifth, when Reyes dove to his left to stop a groundball up the middle by Zimmerman. On his knees, Reyes glove-shoveled the ball on one hop to second baseman Luis Castillo, who made an off-balance throw to first to end the inning.
"I get excited about big double plays like that," said Randolph, who turned quite a few in his career as a second baseman. "That was a great athletic play by Castillo. You have to go 'wow' on it."
- The Nationals haven't had a starter throw more than six innings since John Lannan pitched seven against Arizona last Saturday.
- Muscular Nationals 1B Young -- hardly the swiftest player on the field -- hustled to make a ground-shaking catch in the third inning, rolling to the grass to snag Castillo's foul popup.
- The Mets have the best record in the majors in the first game of a series (26-14).