NEW YORK -- R.A. Dickey had been given a one-run lead in the fifth inning Tuesday, and knowing the New York Mets' offense lately, he couldn't expect to get much more than that.
But Dickey couldn't hold it, as Tyler Moore hit a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the top of the seventh to lead the Washington Nationals to a 5-3 win at Citi Field.
Bryce Harper set a career high with four hits, after manager Davey Johnson gave the rookie a challenge. Harper, who was 0-for-10 against Dickey entering the game, said before the game he didn't expect to start because he couldn't hit Dickey. But he picked up three hits against the knuckleballer.
"Now he knows he can hit a knuckleball," Johnson cracked after the game.
Jordan Zimmermann (11-8) allowed two runs on six hits in five innings, striking out six and walking three, as the Nationals beat New York for the second straight game. The victory, combined with the Atlanta Braves' loss Tuesday, upped Washington's lead in the NL East to 7 1/2 games.
"We've got a chance to do something here," said Jayson Werth, who had two hits and three walks as he reached base in all five plate appearances. "I came here for a reason, and here we are in year two of it. ... no time to let up now."
Up 2-1, Dickey was eight outs from tying Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez for the major league lead in wins. Gonzalez had secured his 19th victory the previous night against the Mets, and his teammates kept him in the lead Tuesday with a seventh-inning rally.
Kurt Suzuki singled with one out, and Moore followed with his pinch-hit homer to left, giving Washington a 3-2 lead.
"This is the best lineup I've faced; they were just so functional," Dickey said. "There's really not a lot of breathing room and you know that. It's not the worst outing to give up three runs in seven innings against that club, but at the same time, your margin for error is probably minute."
Dickey (18-5) lost any shot at the win when Jordany Valdespin pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the inning and the Mets failed to score.
Mets manager Terry Collins said he considered Dickey's situation, but "we're trying to win games, to be honest with you, and I know he's a big factor, and you don't know when we're gonna break out or we're gonna score."
Washington added a pair of runs in the ninth off Frank Francisco, with RBI hits from Suzuki and Harper.
Scott Hairston homered with one out in the ninth against Tyler Clippard to make it 5-3, and Ronny Cedeno singled with two outs to put the tying run at the plate. Up came Ruben Tejada, who had gone 3-for-4 on the night, but Clippard struck him out on a 3-2 pitch to end the game and earn his 31st save of the season.
The Mets took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on three straight hits, with Murphy hitting an RBI double and David Wright driving Murphy in with a single.
The Nationals had jumped on Dickey in the first with two straight hits, but he escaped the inning with only one run allowed, that coming on Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly.
The pregame ceremonies featured several family members of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the 11th anniversary of the tragedy.
A year after the Mets and Major League Baseball were criticized when the league denied the team's request to wear first responder hats on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the players wore them only in batting practice and pre-game activities.
Despite criticism for not defying MLB last year, as they had in 2001, the Mets did not request permission to wear the caps in the game this year, a team spokesman told ESPN New York. The team also planned to wear the caps on the way home following their road trip in Milwaukee and was going to auction them off, with proceeds going to Sept. 11-related charities.
Before the game, the group Tuesday's Children, which provides resources and activities for children whose parents died in the attacks, met with some players before attending the game.
Executive director Terry Sears said on this particular anniversary, a Tuesday with a bright, blue sky, just like the day of the attacks, the outlet of a ballgame was especially helpful. Eleven-year-old Matthew Lunden, whose father, Michael, died when Matthew was just 9 months old, agreed.
"It feels good. I think it will cheer everybody who is here up," he said. "It's a very sad day in American history. It's nice that they make everybody happy."
NOTES: Nationals left-hander Sean Burnett, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 2 due to nerve irritation in his left elbow, said he felt ready to pitch Tuesday, but Johnson said he told him he would wait until Wednesday to make him available. ... Juliette Candela, whose father, John, died in the terrorist attacks, sang the national anthem. Carol Gies, widow of FDNY firefighter Ronnie Gies, threw out the first pitch. She was accompanied by her sons, Tommy, Ronnie and Bobby. ... Collins gave Jason Bay a rare start in left field against a right-handed starter. Collins said he wanted to give Dickey his best defensive team as he aimed for his 19th win.
Delivered to your inbox
|Best of Yardbarker||NFL News||MLB News||NBA News||NHL News|
Today's Best Stuff