NEW YORK (AP) Jonathon Niese stranded nine runners. The one he didn’t was enough to beat him.
Gio Gonzalez struck out nine in seven crisp innings on one of his favorite mounds, outpitching Niese to lead the Washington Nationals over the New York Mets 1-0 Saturday night.
”Probably the best I felt all year,” Niese said. ”There were a lot of groundball base hits, stuff that hit the hole, kind of tough-luck stuff. But give them credit. They hit the ball hard, too.”
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Michael Taylor drove in the only run with an infield single in the second, and Washington won for the 16th time in its last 18 games in Queens. Ian Desmond snapped an 0-for-29 slump with two hits and threw out a runner at the plate.
Gonzalez (2-2) gave up six hits, walked two and even made a diving play on a slow grounder, rebounding nicely after he was hit hard Sunday in a loss at Miami. The left-hander improved to 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in nine starts at Citi Field and chuckled when asked to explain that success.
”It’s New York. It’s a beautiful city. It’s got great food,” he said. ”The weather’s amazing. The airport’s awesome.”
Aaron Barrett and Matt Grace combined on a perfect eighth, and Drew Storen worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save.
Niese (2-2) pitched in traffic all night but also went seven innings. He allowed nine hits – all singles – and one walk as New York fell to 11-2 at home this season.
”That’s kind of my goal when I get in those situations, to avoid the big innings,” Niese said. ”You never want to lose, but I felt I executed a lot of pitches tonight.”
Niese has yielded one earned run in four of his five starts this year, but the left-hander has lost his last four outings against Washington.
”Anytime you lose it stinks, but especially when a guy gives you an effort like that and pitches as well as he did. You feel like you let him down a little bit,” Mets cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer said.
With one out in the first, Juan Lagares tried to score from first base on Lucas Duda’s long double into the left-field corner. Because of the way the Citi Field stands hug the foul lines, Mets third base coach Tim Teufel appeared to have a hard time getting a good view of Jayson Werth chasing the ball.
Teufel waved Lagares home, and he was thrown out on a strong relay from Desmond at shortstop. With Cuddyer due up next, it was a costly decision for New York.
”Once in a while you have to make them make a play,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ”He made a great throw.”
Gonzalez retired Daniel Murphy with two runners in scoring position to end the inning. The only other time the Mets advanced a runner past first base was in the fifth, when Duda hit an inning-ending grounder with men on second and third.
”It was just a great battle all the way to the end,” Gonzalez said.
It was Washington’s first shutout of the season, and the first time the Mets have been blanked. Duda’s double was the only extra-base hit in the game.
Nationals: 3B-2B Anthony Rendon (sprained left knee) was scratched from a rehab game with Double-A Harrisburg because he couldn’t get his side loosened up, the Nationals said. … CF Denard Span sat out his second consecutive game because of soreness and fatigue. He had two recent operations in his core muscle area and began the season on the disabled list. Span was available off the bench and should be fine to start Sunday, manager Matt Williams said.
Mets: RF Curtis Granderson was rested against Gonzalez before fouling out as a pinch hitter in the eighth. … Struggling SS Wilmer Flores got a planned night off. With the Mets idle Monday, Collins said the staff has talked about possibly resting Flores on Sunday, too. ”You can tell this guy just needs to take a deep breath and just forget about it for a day,” Collins said. Flores has a .278 on-base percentage and seven errors. He struck out all four times up Friday night.
Nationals: RHP Doug Fister starts the finale of the four-game series Sunday.
Mets: RHP Dillon Gee has lasted at least five innings in 50 straight starts, the longest active streak in the majors and tied with Dwight Gooden (1987-89) for the team record. Gee is 8-4 with a 3.69 ERA in 16 starts versus Washington, though Desmond (three homers) and Bryce Harper (.368 with two homers and two doubles in 19 at-bats) have enjoyed success against him.