Harris' diving catch helps Nats hang on for win over Mets

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jason Bergmann never got a chance to plead his case to stay in the game after seven shutout innings.

No matter. The pinch hitter who replaced him made Bergmann a winner.

Willie Harris helped put Washington ahead with a key sacrifice bunt, then saved the slick-fielding Nationals by making a sensational catch in the ninth inning of Thursday's 1-0 victory over the New York Mets.

"Willie proved to be the deciding factor in this game, didn't he?" said Bergmann, who was called up from Triple-A Columbus before the game and earned his first victory since September.

The Mets got another chance to tie the score after Harris' grab, putting a runner on third with one out. Instead, they had a potential rally end on an unusual double play for the second consecutive inning.

Washington took three of four in the series by winning an unlikely pitching duel between Bergmann and Mike Pelfrey. The Mets finished a sour 3-4 on their seven-game homestead against last-place teams.

All-Star closer Billy Wagner, who criticized his teammates earlier this season, snapped to reporters after the game, "You should be talking to the guys over there.

"Oh, they're not there. Big shock."

Pelfrey carried a no-hit bid into the seventh before Aaron Boone broke it up with a leadoff single. Starting at first base in place of injured Nick Johnson, Boone also had two crucial assists on those late double plays.

"We're blessed to have him over here," manager Manny Acta said. "He's such a professional player."

Carlos Beltran singled leading off the ninth against Jon Rauch, who earned his ninth save. Ryan Church then hit a high fly down the left-field line that sliced away from the speedy Harris, who was shading Church toward left-center.

"I got a good read on it," Harris said. "I had no idea that I was going to catch it. I just ran after it as if I was going to catch it. ... The ball stayed up in the air long enough."

Harris laid out for a diving catch to thwart the Mets yet again. With the Braves last August, he made a leaping catch to rob Carlos Delgado of a potential tying home run in the ninth inning of a 7-6 Atlanta victory.

Moments after his play Thursday, though, the Nationals' defense betrayed them. Beltran stole second and advanced to third on catcher Jesus Flores' throwing error.

The Mets' good fortune abandoned them as quickly as it had arrived, however. Delgado hit a low liner to first, and Beltran, running on contact, was easily doubled off by Boone.

The game's lone run came in the eighth. Flores led off with a double, Harris laid down his bunt and Felipe Lopez hit a sacrifice fly.

Jose Reyes opened the bottom half with a bunt single. Luis Castillo then laid down a perfect sacrifice, and Reyes, noticing that nobody was covering third, tried to take an extra base.

But shortstop Cristian Guzman recovered in time, catching Boone's throw on the run and beating Reyes to the bag. The two collided as Reyes was tagged out on a 5-3-6 double play.

"He was able to make the first reception of his career," Boone joked, "and I completed the first pass of my career."

Said Reyes: "I thought I could make it. They made a perfect throw. That's the key."

Pelfrey (2-4) allowed one run and three hits in 7 2/3 winnings, the longest outing of his career, and left to a standing ovation. But he was outdone by Bergmann (1-1), who hadn't started in the majors since April 9 and came in with an 11.68 ERA. Bergmann gave up three hits and struck out nine, one shy of his career high.

It was only the second time in 31 career starts that Bergmann didn't allow a run.

"I was able to throw sliders over early; I was able to throw curveballs over late," Bergmann said.

Game notes
Johnson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist. The Nationals plan to activate 1B Dmitri Young from the DL on Friday. ... Washington has four shutouts this season, which ties them with the Marlins and Giants for the NL lead. ... It was the Mets' first 1-0 loss since May 17, 2006, at St. Louis. They were shut out for the first time this season. ... Castillo returned after missing three games with a strained left quadriceps. ... Mets reliever Scott Schoeneweis felt better after spending much of Wednesday in the hospital with stomach pain.