Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats try to make it two in a row against the Mets tonight.
It also includes Jesus Flores behind the plate, which is where Flores will find himself tonight, less than 24 hours after he caught all 12 innings of a 7-6 victory over the Mets. So far, Flores has held up well in his first extended opportunity to play on a daily basis in several years. We'll see how he does over the long haul (though I suspect he'll get tomorrow's matinee off).
Edwin Jackson takes the mound for the Nationals against rookie Jeremy (don't call me Hugh) Hefner, whose time in the New York rotation is probably about to end.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
NEW YORK METS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 72 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to CF
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jesus Flores
RHP Edwin Jackson
LF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
CF Andres Torres
3B David Wright
RF Lucas Duda
2B Daniel Murphy
1B Ike DavisD
C Josh Thole
SS Omar Quintanilla
RHP Jeremy Hefner
HP Wally Bell, 1B Brian Knight, 2B Mike Winters (cc), 3B Mark Wegner
7:07 p.m. -- Edwin Jackson starts off Kirk Nieuwehnhuis with a fastball for strike one. We had a few sprinkles pregame, but we're dry now as the game begins. A late-arriving crowd still making its way inside Nationals Park.
7:12 p.m. -- A pair of swinging strikeouts began the night for Jackson, who looked pretty sharp in blowing away both Nieuwenhuis and Andres Torres. Then Bryce Harper made his first eye-catching play of the night, diving to stab David Wright's sinking liner to center. Nice way to get this game started.
7:24 p.m. -- Well, that's one way to snap out of a 3-week-long funk at that plate: Crush a three-run homer to right. Welcome back, Adam LaRoche, who tattooed Jeremy Hefner's first-pitch curveball with both Bryce Harper (who reached on an error) and Ryan Zimmerman (who walked) on base in front of him. Moments later, Michael Morse delivered another base hit to the opposite field. Good thing I filed a story about that just moments before the game began... After one, the Nats take a 3-0 lead.
7:38 p.m. -- You think Daniel Murphy is feeling a bit of pressure to make quick plays at second base when Bryce Harper hits the ball in his direction? That's twice now in two innings in which Murphy has booted what should have been a routine grounder. He managed to recover in time to make the play in the second inning, but clearly he realizes Harper's hustle doesn't afford him the luxury of taking his time. Still 3-0 after two.
7:49 p.m. -- Oh, those leadoff walks to the No. 8 hitter. They'll come back to haunt you every time, won't they? Jackson's free pass to Omar Quintanilla proved costly in the top of third, with Quintanilla eventually coming around to score on Nieuwenhuis' RBI single. So it's 3-1 now.
8:10 p.m. -- Oh, those errant pickoff throws. They'll come back to haunt you every time, won't they? (Notice a recurring theme here?) Jackson threw way wild to first base trying to get Wright in the top of the fourth, and Wright wound up on third base because of it. (That's the second straight start, by the way, in which Jackson has committed a two-base error on a pickoff attempt.) And this one proved costly when Wright scored on Lucas Duda's grounder to short ... though Desmond thought for a moment about firing to the plate. So the Mets get an unearned run, and Jackson's ERA doesn't suffer, even though it was his mistake that let the run score. (Have I mentioned how much I dislike that rule?) The Nats now lead 3-2 in the middle of the fourth.
8:25 p.m. -- Jackson needed that: an eight-pitch top of the fifth. He's at 70 total pitches for the night. He could use a little more offensive support. The Nats haven't done much since LaRoche's first-inning homer. Still 3-2 heading to the bottom of the fifth.
8:38 p.m. -- Hey, what do you know? Morse delivers another base hit to right field, this one driving in Zimmerman. Morse's first RBI of the season (and fourth hit in his last seven at-bats) puts the Nats up 4-2 after five.
8:47 p.m. -- You know, if you throw out his two self-inflicted wounds -- the leadoff walk to the No. 8 hitter and the two-base error -- Jackson is throwing himself a whale of a ballgame. Through six innings, he's allowed only two hits (both singles). Jackson's four walks are a bit of an eyesore. But the fact remains he's getting the job done. Still 4-2 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
9:03 p.m. -- Make it 4-3 as the Mets get one back in the seventh. Ike Davis, who somehow has become a productive offensive player tonight, led off with a double to left. He then advanced and scored on a couple of groundouts. So this one's not over yet. Jackson did his part with seven innings of three-run ball. Now the bullpen will need to finish it off.
9:15 p.m. -- Another RBI for LaRoche, his fourth of the night (which is twice as many as he produced over his previous nine games combined). This one, on a sac fly to left-center, brings home Lombardozzi and puts the Nats back up by two runs. It's 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
9:35 p.m. -- A 1-2-3 eighth for Sean Burnett, who needed that after a bit of a shaky appearance last night. That sets the stage for Tyler Clippard to finish things off in the ninth.
9:53 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats win 5-3. Jackson gets only his second win of the season. Clippard gets his fifth save in as many tries since he became pseudo-closer. LaRoche provides the offensive fireworks. And thanks to the Marlins' 2-1 loss to the Braves, the Nationals now lead the NL East by two games.