Mets 3, Nationals 0

Rain or shine, the Washington Nationals have trouble scoring

runs.

Jonathon Niese pitched seven sharp innings, some of them in

heavy showers, and Justin Turner hit a two-run double that sent the

New York Mets to a 3-0 victory over the light-hitting Nationals on

Wednesday night.

Quiet nights at the plate are nothing new for the Nats. They

began the day ranked last in the NL in batting average (.225),

on-base percentage (.298), slugging (.348), hits (302), total bases

(467) and doubles (57).

”There’s nothing to do except work your way out of it, and our

guys are doing that,” manager Jim Riggleman said. ”We’ve kind of

showed signs of it a couple times that we’re coming out of it, but

it’s been a little elusive to really get it going. But the effort,

the intensity has been there.”

With maybe a few thousand hardy souls in the stands on another

soggy night at Citi Field, the Mets’ depleted lineup scratched out

enough offense to help Niese (3-4) win his second consecutive

start.

Playing without injured regulars David Wright, Ike Davis and

Angel Pagan, New York won for the eighth time in 12 games and tied

Washington for fourth place in the NL East.

The Nationals managed eight hits but were shut out for the sixth

time this season.

”We’ve just got to click as a team. We’re just waiting for that

one big hit,” shortstop Ian Desmond said.

Jason Bay had a sacrifice fly in the first inning and Turner

cracked a two-out double in the sixth to chase Tom Gorzelanny (2-3)

after 116 pitches. Jose Reyes singled three times, drew an

intentional walk and scored twice from his leadoff spot.

”I’ve never played in anything like that,” Niese said. ”It’s

the wettest I’ve ever been pitching. … Every ball the umpire gave

me was wet. I had to do my best to rub them dry in my hands.”

With deep puddles forming on the infield, Jason Isringhausen

worked a one-hit eighth and Francisco Rodriguez got three outs for

his 13th save in 14 chances. With two on, he retired pinch-hitter

Laynce Nix and then Roger Bernadina on consecutive flyouts to

left.

Both teams were rained out Tuesday night – the Nationals at home

against Pittsburgh, and the Mets at home against the Marlins. That

came after New York and Florida played through the mist on a muddy

track Monday night.

The announced attendance Wednesday was 24,527, but nearly all

the seats were empty and hecklers could be heard from the

stands.

”It was wet and rainy just like it looked, but I think all of

us were kind of itching to play,” Desmond said. ”We were ready to

get back out there.”

After some torrential rain in the afternoon, the heavy stuff

stopped in time to start the game on time – with no more than a

couple hundred fans in the ballpark.

The grounds crew worked hard between innings all night to try to

dry out the infield and it was absolutely pouring when Bernadina

grounded out with the bases loaded to end the seventh.

Still, play went on without interruption.

”I thought the grounds crew did a great job. It got a little

touchy a couple times but I don’t think it had any effect on the

play of the game. Maybe I’m missing something,” Riggleman said.

”Nobody got hurt. I don’t think there were errors made because of

the conditions or anything like that.”

Reyes hit a leadoff single in the first, went to third on

Turner’s double and scored on Bay’s sacrifice fly.

Scott Hairston reached on an infield single to start the sixth,

easily beating a throw from his brother, Jerry, at third base. With

two outs and first base open, Reyes was intentionally walked to

bring up Turner. He doubled to center over the head of the speedy

Bernadina, who was playing shallow.

”He got a good pitch that he could handle,” Bernadina said.

”It was big for them.”

Before that hit, New York was 0 for 9 with runners in scoring

position.

NOTES: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said RHP Stephen Strasburg is

preparing to throw off a mound ”any day now,” the next step in

his recovery from Sept. 3 elbow surgery. … Washington OF Rick

Ankiel (right wrist) is close to beginning a minor league rehab

assignment and could be back in about a week. … Riggleman said

Matt Stairs will probably be the leading candidate to DH against

right-handed pitching this weekend in Baltimore. … 3B Ryan

Zimmerman, who had surgery to repair a tear in his abdominal muscle

on May 3, is at least three weeks away from returning, Riggleman

said. … The Nationals said Rizzo’s grandfather, Vito, died Sunday

in Chicago from natural causes. He was 103. Vito Rizzo also was the

father of Nationals senior adviser to the general manager Phil

Rizzo. ”My grandfather was a long time Chicago railroad worker,

who doubled as a terrific semi-professional ballplayer. A lifelong

fan and student of baseball, it was his passion for the game that

sparked careers in baseball for my father and myself,” Mike Rizzo

said in a statement. … There was a moment of silence before the

game for Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew, who

died Tuesday at age 74.