As the grounds crew pulled the tarp off the infield yesterday afternoon, an excited squeal originated from a small corner of an otherwise empty park.
It was one of the few times that gleeful noise was heard at Citi Field.
Francisco Rodriguez took full responsibility after allowing a two-run shot to Roger Bernadina — his second of the game — to break a tie in the top of the ninth. The Nationals (19-15) held on for a 6-4 win over the Mets in a game played in a steady drizzle. The Mets (18-16) have dropped three of the last four and finished the homestand 3-3.
“He got a couple pitches he could handle, put the barrel square on the [ball] and you saw what the result was,” said Rodriguez, who recorded his first loss of the season. “It was a fastball. That one’s on me.”
Coming off of a six run eighth-inning explosion on Tuesday, the Mets believed they had turned a corner offensively. It sure seemed like it when they scored four runs in five innings off starter Craig Stammen. A crop of Washington relievers, though, stifled the Mets for just two hits the rest of the way.
Bernadina robbed the Mets, most notably Jeff Francoeur, of a golden opportunity in the fifth after they had tied the game at 4. Francoeur ripped what looked to be a sure double to the right field corner with the bases loaded. Bernadina sprinted over and made a spectacular diving catch to end the inning.
“Ruined my whole day,” Francoeur said.
Stammen ruined Mike Pelfrey’s day by driving in three runs to help build a pair of two-run leads. Stammen’s second-inning single drove in Adam Dunn and Christian Guzman for the game’s first two runs. In the fourth, Bernadina connected on his first career home run. Wil Nieves followed with a double and scored on a RBI single by Stammen.
“It’s going to be a long day when the pitcher gets three RBIs,” Pelfrey said.
After finishing April 4-0 with an 0.69 ERA, Pelfrey (4-1, 3.14) has come back down to earth. Facing an improving Nationals lineup, Pelfrey struck out six but allowed four runs on seven hits in 52/3 innings.