|N.Y. Mets (45-35) «||1||0||0||4||0||0||0||0||0||5||8||0|
WASHINGTON -- Francisco Rodriguez is one of baseball's most reliable relief pitchers, saving 262 games in his career. This game-ending play was unique.
The Washington Nationals had rallied for two runs in the ninth inning and had the potential tying run on base with two outs when Rodriguez picked off Roger Bernadina at second for the final out of the New York Mets' 5-3 victory Friday night.
Bernadina's careless baserunning, which turned into a colossal blunder, was spotted by 20-year-old rookie shortstop Ruben Tejada, playing there only because Jose Reyes missed his third straight game with a stiff back.
Tejada signaled to Rodriguez, and K-Rod fired the ball to second to nab Bernadina, allowing Jonathon Niese to win his fifth straight decision and New York manager Jerry Manuel to breath a little easier.
"I was hiding at that time. I didn't see anything," Manuel said. "I looked up and they came running off the field, and I said, 'Oh, we must have won."'
For Tejada, the play showed the smart thinking of a veteran.
"3-2 count, two outs. The runner never thinks pickoff," Tejada said.
Rodriguez had come into the game with one out and runners on second and third. He allowed singles to Bernadina and Ian Desmond to score two runs, and with Willie Harris at the plate, he wasn't thinking pickoff.
"I was thinking about getting the hitter out. It crosses the mind [not to] throw the ball into center field and throw more gasoline into the fire," Rodriguez said.
Bernadina didn't duck responsibility for the snafu.
"I was late. That's all I can say there. I was late. That's no excuse," Bernadina said.
Niese (6-2) allowed six hits and one run in seven innings as he improved to 5-0 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts since coming off the disabled list June 5. He fanned eight in his first four innings -- striking out the side in the fourth -- and didn't walk a batter.
To top it off, Niese added his first career RBI on a double in a four-run fourth.
Josh Willingham homered off Niese in the seventh for Washington's first run.
The Mets chased Luis Atilano (6-5) in the fourth.
In the first, Tejada was hit by a pitch, moved to third on Wright's single up the middle and scored on Ike Davis' infield out.
Atilano loaded the bases in the fourth on Wright's double and two walks. He got Rod Barajas on a short fly to center and Jeff Francoeur on a liner to shortstop before Cora tripled off the right-field wall to clear the bases. Cora scored on Niese's double.
Bobby Parnell worked a scoreless eighth. Pedro Feliciano struck out the only batter he faced in the ninth and Elmer Dessens got one out before Rodriguez picked off Bernadina, with a smart tag by Tejada, for his 19th save.
While the Mets are 25-12 since May 22, the Nationals reached the halfway point heading south. They're 35-46, which projects to 92 losses -- far better than the two straight 100-plus loss seasons they've endured, but they're 15-31 since May 15.
Atilano allowed all five New York runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings.Notes
|Jonathon Niese fans a career-high eight batters en route to winning his fifth straight start. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|New York Mets|
|Angel Pagan, CF||5||0||1||0||0||2||1||.300|
|Ruben Tejada, SS||4||1||0||0||0||1||1||.243|
|David Wright, 3B||5||1||3||0||0||1||0||.312|
|Ike Davis, 1B||3||1||0||1||1||1||1||.257|
|Jason Bay, LF||3||1||0||0||1||1||2||.275|
|Rod Barajas, C||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||.239|
|Jeff Francoeur, RF||4||0||2||0||0||1||3||.265|
|Alex Cora, 2B||4||1||1||3||0||0||1||.229|
|Jonathon Niese, P||3||0||1||1||0||1||1||.160|
|a- Fernando Tatis, PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.175|
|b- Chris Carter, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.242|
|Bobby Parnell, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Pedro Feliciano, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Elmer Dessens, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Francisco Rodriguez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-announced for Niese in the 8th|
|b-struck out for Tatis in the 8th|
|2B - David Wright (25, Atilano), Jonathon Niese (1, Atilano)|
|3B - Alex Cora (2, Atilano)|
|RBI - Ike Davis (36), Alex Cora 3 (17), Jonathon Niese (1)|
|2-OUT RBI - Alex Cora 3 (8), Jonathon Niese (1)|
|SB - Angel Pagan (15, 2nd base off Peralta/Rodriguez)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|New York Mets|
|Jonathon Niese (W,6-2)||7||6||1||1||0||8||1||3.62|
|Francisco Rodriguez (S,19)||0.1||2||0||0||0||0||0||1.99|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jonathon Niese 117-77, Bobby Parnell 8-5, Pedro Feliciano 5-4, Elmer Dessens 10-6, Francisco Rodriguez 10-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jonathon Niese 4-8, Bobby Parnell 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Jonathon Niese 26, Bobby Parnell 3, Pedro Feliciano 1, Elmer Dessens 3, Francisco Rodriguez 2|
|Nyjer Morgan, CF||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.258|
|Cristian Guzman, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.293|
|Adam Dunn, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||3||0||.271|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B||3||1||1||0||1||1||0||.284|
|Josh Willingham, LF||4||1||2||1||0||1||2||.277|
|Ivan Rodriguez, C||4||1||1||0||0||2||2||.298|
|Mike Morse, RF||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.298|
|a- Roger Bernadina, PH||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||.287|
|Ian Desmond, SS||4||0||2||1||0||1||0||.256|
|Luis Atilano, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.043|
|Joel Peralta, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000|
|Sean Burnett, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Miguel Batista, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|b- Adam Kennedy, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.236|
|Doug Slaten, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Willie Harris, PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.155|
|a-singled for Morse in the 9th|
|b-grounded out for Batista in the 8th|
|c-?? for Slaten in the 9th|
|2B - Ivan Rodriguez (13, Dessens), Ian Desmond (14, Niese)|
|HR - Josh Willingham (15, Niese)|
|RBI - Josh Willingham (45), Roger Bernadina (24), Ian Desmond (34)|
|2-OUT RBI - Roger Bernadina (11), Ian Desmond (18)|
|CS - Nyjer Morgan (12, 2nd base by Niese/Barajas)|
|PK - Roger Bernadina (2, Rodriguez)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|E - Ian Desmond (20, Misplayed grounder)|
|Luis Atilano (L,6-5)||3.2||4||5||5||2||4||0||4.72|
|HBP - Tejada (by Luis Atilano)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Luis Atilano 74-48, Joel Peralta 38-31, Sean Burnett 14-9, Miguel Batista 6-4, Doug Slaten 7-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Luis Atilano 3-4, Joel Peralta 2-5, Sean Burnett 2-1, Doug Slaten 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Luis Atilano 18, Joel Peralta 12, Sean Burnett 5, Miguel Batista 1, Doug Slaten 3|
|Attendance - 24410|
|Game Time - 2:56|
|Temperature - 80|
|Umpires - Home - Tim Welke, First Base - Scott Barry, Second Base - Bill Welke, Third Base - Jim Reynolds|