April 23, 2008: Three-Run 6th Defeats Nats

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Date: April 23, 2008
Mets starter: Johan Santana
Mets: 7
Nationals: 2
Winning pitcher: Johan Santana
Key player(s): Johan Santana, Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran
Key play: Zimmerman’s error, Church’s two-run single

The Mets faced the Nationals on a Wednesday night. The opener of a two-game series, the game was the Mets’ first ever at the new Nationals Park in Washington. The Mets scored three runs in the sixth inning and defeated the Nats, 7-2.

Nationals’ starter Tim Redding pitched a perfect top of the first inning. The Mets’ Johan Santana gave up only a single to Cristian Guzman in the bottom half and Carlos Beltran doubled to open the top of the second. Beltran advanced to third base on Ryan Church’s ground out to first baseman Nick Johnson and came home on Carlos Delgado’s ground out to shortstop Guzman. Redding retired Angel Pagan on a grounder to Johnson to end the inning and Wily Mo Pena got a two-out single in the bottom half. Wil Nieves singled and Santana fanned Redding for the inning’s third out.

Redding yielded just a double to Santana in the top of the third. Johan held the Nats to a single by Guzman in the bottom half and Redding surrendered just a walk to Beltran in the top of the fourth. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Pena singled and moved to third base on a single by Nieves. Redding followed with a double that scored Pena and Nieves for a 2-1 Washington lead. Santana then retired Felipe Lopez on a ground ball to second baseman Luis Castillo to close out the inning.

Brian Schneider drew a one-out walk in the top of the fifth. Santana walked and Jose Reyes hit a force play grounder to Guzman. Reyes stole second base and went to third on Castillo’s single that brought home Schneider with the tying run. Redding got David Wright on a force play ground ball to Guzman to finish off the inning. Santana then set down the side in order in the bottom half.

Beltran singled against Redding to begin the top of the sixth. Against Nats’ reliever Ray King, Church hit a single and advanced to third base on third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s error that allowed Beltran to score. Delgado popped out to Zimmerman and an infield single by Pagan brought home Church. Pagan stole both second and third before coming home on Schneider’s ground out to Guzman for a 5-2 Mets lead. Santana doubled and Washington’s Saul Rivera retired Reyes on a grounder to second baseman Lopez to end the inning. Johan then hurled a perfect bottom half.

Rivera set down all three batters in the top of the seventh. Santana surrendered only a walk to pinch-hitter Aaron Boone in the bottom of the inning and Nationals’ reliever Joel Hanrahan pitched a scoreless top of the eighth. The Mets’ Duaner Sanchez pitched a perfect bottom half and Castillo singled against the Nationals’ Jesus Colome with one out in the top of the ninth. Castillo stole second base and Wright drew a walk. Beltran grounded out to Johnson to move the runners to second and third. Church singled to drive home Castillo and Wright with the Mets’ sixth and seventh runs of the game. Colome then retired Delgado on a line drive to left fielder Pena for the inning’s final out.

Austin Kearns drew a walk against Mets’ reliever Billy Wagner to begin the bottom of the ninth. Lastings Milledge went down on strikes and Pena flied out to center fielder Beltran. Kearns went to second base on defensive indifference. Wagner then fanned Nieves to end the game. The Mets had a victory in their initial visit to Washington’s new baseball venue.