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Sunday, April 21, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Mets 2, Nationals 0

By Kieran Darcy



What it means: The Mets took two of three from arguably the best team in baseball.

After a disappointing 7-6 loss to the Nationals on Saturday, the Mets bounced back to win Sunday's rubber game, 2-0.

Dillon Gee was amazin' for 5 2/3 innings (see below), giving the team a big lift. The Mets had been 1-7 in game started by pitchers other than Matt Harvey and Jonathon Niese.

The Mets are now 9-8 on the season, while the Nationals fall to 10-8. The Mets have won all three series this season at Citi Field.

Gee wiz: Gee was 0-3 with an 8.36 ERA in his first three starts of the season, but was outstanding on Sunday afternoon. After giving up a pair of singles in a 26-pitch first inning, Gee allowed just one base runner in innings 2 through 5 -- via a third-inning single by Jayson Werth.

Gee appeared to tire in the top of the sixth. After not walking a batter over his first five frames, he had three walks in the sixth. Fortunately Denard Span, who led the inning off with a walk, was thrown out trying to go to second base on a pitch in the dirt. With Gee's pitch count up to 98, manager Terry Collins elected to lift him with runners on first and second and two outs. LaTroy Hawkins came in and got a huge out, striking out Ian Desmond looking to end the inning.

Gee went 5 2/3, allowing no runs on three hits, with six strikeouts and those three sixth-inning walks. His ERA for the season dropped all the way to 5.95.

Buck shot: The Mets got on the board in the second inning, when John Buck crushed a 3-1 fastball from Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann into the second deck in left-center field, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. It was Buck's seventh home run of the season and 22nd RBI. He now leads the majors in RBIs and is tied for second in home runs, behind only the Braves' Justin Upton (9).

The Mets scored their other run in the fourth inning. David Wright led off with a walk, and with the hit-and-run on, went to third on an Ike Davis single. Wright eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Baxter.

New York only had four hits on the day, but that was enough. Baxter had a two-out single in the sixth and Daniel Murphy had the same in the seventh.

Big surprise: The Mets' bullpen was the worst in baseball entering play on Sunday, with a collective ERA of 5.47. But they came up big.

First, Hawkins got that huge out in the sixth. Brandon Lyon pitched a 1-2-3 seventh. Scott Rice got himself in trouble in the eighth, giving up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi, followed by a Span walk. The next batter, Werth, had a 3-0 count, and Rice was clearly having trouble finding the strike zone. But Werth swung at the 3-0 pitch and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Then Rice struck out Bryce Harper to end the inning -- a tremendous comeback by the 31-year-old rookie.

Bobby Parnell put the Nationals down in order in the ninth, earning his second save of the season.

In the field: Ruben Tejada has gotten plenty of grief for his six errors this season, which has him tied for the major-league lead. But Tejada made a beautiful play at shortstop on Sunday, moving to his left to snag a hot shot off the bat of Kurt Suzuki to end the top of the seventh.

What's next: The Mets are off on Monday. They begin a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday at Citi Field, first pitch at 7:10 p.m. The scheduled starters are Niese (2-1, 3.80) for the Mets, opposed by 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (2-2, 1.88).