WASHINGTON -- The New York Mets struck out 15 times and finished with just three hits Saturday night. But baseball is a funny game sometimes: The Mets still came away with a victory.
Ike Davis hit a two-run homer and Jon Niese threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings to help the New York Mets to a 2-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.
The Mets (57-63) couldn't do much offensively against Washington starter Edwin Jackson and two relief pitchers. Jackson struck out 11 in seven innings, and the two relievers added four more strikeouts on a night when New York put just two runners into scoring position and finished with those three hits.
"It's great to beat them," Davis said. "You always want to beat the best, and now they're the best in the division. A win's a win, (if you) score 10 or two or get three hits or one hit, it still counts."
Davis made it count. Jackson (7-8) had retired 17 of 18 New York batters after Mike Baxter's first-inning triple before walking David Wright to start the seventh inning.
The right-hander then left a fastball toward the outer half of the plate, and Davis lined it into his team's bullpen in left field. When asked if he was trying to hit it the opposite way, Davis just smiled.
"I wasn't trying to go anywhere -- I was just trying to hit the ball," he said. "We didn't really do a great job of that tonight, partly because (Jackson) was so nasty. He left his fastball up and away, and I hit it on the barrel."
That was his 22nd homer this season. Interestingly, 17 of his homers have come on the road, the most in the National League.
Davis finished the night 2-for-4, getting the Mets' third and final hit on a bloop single to left in the ninth inning.
Jackson allowed just those two hits and two runs in his seven innings, but he still took the loss despite the 11 strikeouts and one walk.
"That's probably the most dominant I've seen him pitch," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He was fun watching. His stuff was so electric. He was overmatching them."
But Niese matched Jackson nearly pitch-for-pitch. He struck out seven without a walk in his 7 1/3-inning effort, scattering five hits and staying out of trouble most of the time.
"It seems like when you need him most, he'll step up," Mets manager Terry Collins. "Tonight, he knew we needed him again, and he gave us a great outing."
Niese (10-6) was coming off another strong outing, giving up just one run in eight innings when the Mets beat Atlanta last Sunday. He has thrown 13 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
"It was one of those nights where everything felt good," Niese said. "(Catcher) Josh (Thole) called a great game. We had the game plan, working in and out. We just executed pitches and it worked out."
Former National Jon Rauch replaced Niese in the eighth to finish the inning. Frank Francisco came on in the ninth to close it for his 20th save, bouncing back after giving up three runs on four hits in 2/3 inning Thursday against the Reds.
Rauch had to finish that game, but Francisco retired Washington in order -- with some help from right fielder Baxter's running catch of Ryan Zimmerman's liner in the corner.
The Nationals (74-46) held on to a four-game lead in the National League East thanks to Atlanta's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
Both New York and Washington had threatened in the first inning, but neither team could do much else early on thanks to Jackson and Niese.
Baxter lined his one-out triple to left-center in the top of the first, but Jackson escaped by retiring Wright on a grounder to third and Davis on a fly ball to center.
Washington put two on with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but Niese retired the next two batters.
NOTES: Washington manager Davey Johnson gave rookie outfielder Bryce Harper another day off. Johnson's been giving Harper more time off lately in his first major-league season, especially since the rookie's been slumping at the plate. ... The Nationals came into the game with a 74-45 record, 29 games over .500, and that hasn't happened in a while in Washington. In fact, the last team from DC to do that came in 1933. ... Wright needs one more homer to reach 200 for his career. ... Kelly Shoppach's homer for the Mets on Friday night was his first in the National League, and his first with the team since the Mets acquired him from Boston last week. He has shown power in his career. Elias said Shoppach's career average of one homer every 22.1 at-bats ranks fourth among active catchers with 1,000 or more at-bats at that position. Shoppach now has 62 of his 65 homers as a catcher. ... Baxter's triple in the first inning stretched his hitting streak to a career-high seven games, going back to Aug. 9. ... The crowd of 42,662 was the ninth sellout of the season and the second-highest in the history of Nationals Park.
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