NEW YORK -- Ryan Church lashed a line drive to right in the sixth inning, harder hit than his homer in the second for sure, and he paused momentarily in the batter's box to watch the ball's trajectory.
Once he saw Austin Kearns hesitate, he knew he had another hit.
The liner-turned-double drove in two of Church's four runs against his former team, and John Maine pitched six sharp innings to lead the New York Mets over the Washington Nationals 6-3 on Tuesday night.
"I saw it start tailing a little bit and I saw him freeze, like 'Whoa,"' Church said, adding a shimmy for visual effect. "I've been in that position before."
A night after Mets starter Nelson Figueroa called the Nationals "softball girls" for cheering in the dugout during his loss, Maine (5-2) hit Felipe Lopez with his first pitch of the game. The ball grazed Lopez's right leg but the leadoff hitter angrily threw his bat in front of the plate and briefly glared at Maine as he walked down first base.
Maine said he was just trying to establish the inside of the plate.
"I just got a little too inside I guess," he said with a shrug.
There were no other moments of potential trouble, even when David Wright had to dive to the dirt to avoid being hit by a pitch. The Mets amassed more than 10 hits for the second straight night, but got timely hits late this time to beat the Nationals and improve to 3-2 on their seven-game homestand against last-place teams.
The Mets left 11 on base Monday and nine Tuesday, a trend that disturbs Mets manager Willie Randolph.
"We're not capitalizing on our opportunities," Randolph said. "We just have to do a better job of getting guys in."
Maine was mostly dominant for his second straight start, allowing just two runs -- one earned -- and two hits and retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced after giving up Ryan Zimmerman's two-run homer in the third.
In his last outing, Maine took a shutout into the ninth inning against the Dodgers. He hasn't given up more than two runs since his first start of the season on April 5.
"He's throwing the heck out of the ball," Randolph said. "Becoming very reliable for us. He's in a nice groove right now.
He was removed for pinch-hitter Fernando Tatis, who was called up from Triple-A New Orleans earlier Tuesday. Tatis singled in his first big league at-bat since 2006 and scored on Church's hit that zipped over Kearns' outstretched glove for a 4-2 lead.
"I thought I had a read on it," Kearns said. "It didn't do what I thought it was going to do. It carried, I knew it would. He hit it hard, but it hooked or it cut or something."
Matt Wise, activated from the disabled list Tuesday, gave up a run in the seventh, Duaner Sanchez walked two in a scoreless eighth and Billy Wagner gave up a hit in the ninth to finish the four-hitter and earn his eighth save.
John Lannan (3-4), 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA in five previous starts, gave up 12 hits and four runs in six innings.
"He's struggled with left-handed hitters," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "He made a mistake with Church, leaving a ball over the plate, but it wasn't him so much. We just couldn't get anything going."
It could have been worse if not for two stellar defensive plays with runners on first and second to keep it tied.
In the fourth, the speedy Reyes hit into a difficult 5-4-3 double play. And Lastings Milledge made a running basket catch of Delgado's drive, crashing into the wall as he corralled the ball to end the fifth. Milledge, however, made an error in the eighth that led to Reyes' RBI single and Church's sacrifice fly for a 6-3 lead.
Church, who came to New York in an offseason trade with Washington, nearly hit the big red apple just beyond the center-field fence leading off the bottom of the third to tie it at 2.
The Mets took the early lead in the second on Brian Schneider's groundout after Moises Alou hit an infield single and Carlos Delgado bunted for a base hit to the third-base side with the Nationals in a pull shift. Delgado said it was his third bunt hit for the Mets.
"Technique wasn't great, but in that situation all you have to do is get it down with an ocean of room over there (third base)," Randolph said of Delgado's bunt.
2B Damion Easley made two errors for the Mets. ... The Mets purchased the contracts of RHP Claudio Vargas and Fernando Tatis from Triple-A New Orleans. Vargas will start Wednesday against the Nationals. Tatis is filling Angel Pagan's spot. Pagan was placed on the 15-day DL with a bruised shoulder. To make room for Vargas, the Mets cut Figueroa. The Mets also cut RHP Jorge Sosa. ... Washington LF Elijah Dukes got his first hit of the season in the seventh, a double. He was 0-for-11 after injuring his right hamstring on opening day.