Rapid Reaction: Nats 5, Mets 3

June, 6, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: Three times on Tuesday the Mets were within a half-inning of closing out a victory and claiming first place in the National League East. Now, the Amazin’s are in fourth place in the division and will be left trying to salvage the matinee series finale Thursday.

Daniel Murphy committed a pair of errors and the Mets lost their third straight game, 5-3 to Washington on Wednesday at Nationals Park.

The Mets are in the midst of their longest skid since losing four straight April 30-May 4, which included getting swept in Houston.

The Mets mustered only three hits against Nationals starter Edwin Jackson and relievers Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard.

MURPHY'S FLAW: A night after shortstops Omar Quintanilla and Jordany Valdepsin combined to commit three errors, the miscues shifted to second base.

Murphy kicked Bryce Harper's first-inning grounder into the outfield and also committed an error on Adam LaRoche's third-inning grounder. Murphy also flubbed the baseball in Harper's second at-bat, but recovered just soon enough to retire the 19-year-old phenom at first base.

SPOT LITE: Jeremy Hefner surrendered a three-run, first-inning homer to LaRoche in the spot start that provided Johan Santana extra rest after the southpaw's 134-pitch no-hitter Friday.

Preceding the long ball, Murphy had committed the error to allow Harper to reach, then Hefner walked Ryan Zimmerman to bring LaRoche to the plate.

Hefner's final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. He departed with the Mets trailing, 4-2.

This likely was Hefner's final start with the Mets for the near term. In fact, Hefner may lose his roster spot when Chris Young returns from paternity leave, if not sooner. That way, Hefner can remain stretched out by working in Triple-A Buffalo's rotation and be ready to step in and provide length again at the major league level if required.

IT'S A START: Ike Davis walked twice and doubled in his first three plate appearances. It marked only the second time this season Davis (1-for-2) had reached base three times via hit, walk and/or hit by pitch. The other instance: a three-hit game April 29 at Colorado.

After Davis' seventh-inning double against Jackson, he reached third on Josh Thole's groundout, then scored to pull the Mets within 4-3 on Quintanilla's groundout.

Tim Byrdak surrendered a sacrifice fly a half-inning later as Washington restored a two-run cushion.

WHAT’S NEXT: R.A. Dickey (8-1, 2.38 ERA), working on standard rest, opposes Chien-Ming Wang (1-1, 6.43) in the 1:10 p.m. series finale Thursday.
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187