Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/10/12

NEW YORK -- Mets catcher Kelly Shoppach felt bad enough when he dropped a pop up in foul territory to give Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki another chance at the plate.

He felt worse when Suzuki took advantage of it, smacking a home run to spark a three-run third and help give Gio Gonzalez his major-league-leading 19th win in the Nationals' 5-1 victory over the Mets on Monday at Citi Field.

"It made me so mad. I just told Kurt, 'Couldn't you just hit a single?'" Shoppach said, adding Suzuki offered his sympathies in response. Shoppach said Suzuki told him, " 'I know, I felt bad for you.' "

The Mets lost their fourth in a row, behind rookie starter Collin McHugh. They also lost a chance to help ace R.A. Dickey's bid for a Cy Young award by knocking off Gonzalez, a main competitor for the honor. Instead, Dickey will take the mound Tuesday hoping to win his 19th game and tie Gonzalez.

"When you start looking at one thing, it'll drive you crazy," Gonzalez said of shooting for the Cy Young award. "If it comes, it comes."

Washington moved six games up on the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, pending the result of the Braves' game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Mets manager Terry Collins tried juggling his team's batting practice time to shake up his slumping offense, but Gonzalez (19-7) limited the Mets to one run on Scott Hairston's homer. Gonzalez gave up just three hits but had to overcome some wildness as he walked five, while striking out six in six innings.

"Couldn't find the strike zone," Gonzalez said. "Drank too much coffee, I don't know what it was."

Three relievers shut out the Mets the rest of the way. Suzuki, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond homered off McHugh (0-2).

Shoppach's drop of Suzuki's pop in foul territory to start the third came back to bite the Mets and McHugh hard. After Suzuki's homer, McHugh secured the next two outs, but walked Bryce Harper before Zimmerman smacked a two-run shot into the black over the center-field wall, for a 3-0 lead. The runs were all unearned as it would have been a 1-2-3 inning had Shoppach made the catch.

While McHugh said it was his own fault because he left pitches over the plate and the error was a separate play, Shoppach said the misplay stung.

"I just misplayed it and the wind kept carrying it and I tried to stay behind it, stay behind it, stay behind it and, you know, just popped out of there," Shoppach said. "Nobody feels worse than I do."

Washington made it 5-0 on Desmond's two-run homer the next inning, and McHugh exited after four innings. He allowed five runs (two earned) on five hits, while striking out three and walking two.

The Mets scored their first run with their first hit off Gonzalez, on Hairston's homer to lead off the bottom of the fourth.

Collins had acknowledged before the game his minor shift in batting practice times was like "grasping at straws" to try to jumpstart his struggling offense. He had his team take batting practice about a half hour later than usual, noting the Mets averaged more runs on the road, when teams usually take BP later. It didn't show any early results, as the Mets were held hitless in the first three innings.

NOTES: Nationals left-hander Sean Burnett, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 2 due to nerve irritation in his left elbow, threw his first bullpen Monday. He'll throw another one Tuesday and return Wednesday, if there are no setbacks, manager Davey Johnson said. ... Johnson said he wouldn't alter his rotation to set up matchups for this weekend's series against the Atlanta Braves, who began the night 5 1/2 games back of Washington in the NL East. ... Collins said after the game Jenrry Mejia will start the second game in the upcoming series against the Milwaukee Brewers with Jeremy Hefner going to the bullpen. Collins said Hefner had some late-season fatigue and that Mejia would remain in the rotation. ... Slumping Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada returned to the lineup Monday after Justin Turner filled in for him Sunday. Tejada reached base in his first three plate appearances with two walks and a bloop single.

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