Mets stake Takahashi early lead, beat Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The New York Mets usually don't hit well with two outs.

They did on Sunday.

The Mets scored six runs when the Washington Nationals were on the verge of escaping an inning, and New York held on after jumping to an eight-run lead in a 9-5 victory.

Jason Bay drove in four runs, Angel Pagan drove in two more and Ike Davis added a two-run homer for New York, which came into the game batting .213 with two outs, the lowest mark in the majors. All-Star third baseman David Wright contributed two hits and scored two runs.

"Early on this season, we weren't getting any big hits. Two-out hits are huge," said Bay, whose first four-RBI game with the Mets came on a two-run triple in the first that nearly cleared the fence and a two-run single in the fourth. Both hits came with two outs.

"Place a few of those together and give [our starter] some breathing room," Bay said.

New York scored eight runs in the first four innings -- seven against Craig Stammen (2-3). He's the second Nationals pitcher in the last three games who couldn't complete four innings.

What happened to Stammen?

"The Mets are what happened," Washington manager Jim Riggleman said. "They came out hacking, and Craig wasn't sharp. Today, he just didn't have it and the Mets took advantage of it."

New York manager Jerry Manuel, pleased that his team earned a split of the four-game series, thought that Bay's triple was a good sign.

"The very first inning kind of set the tone for us," Manuel said. "We need that."

On a hot, humid day, Hisanori Takahashi (7-3) breezed through five innings, allowing two hits and tying a career high with seven strikeouts -- including five consecutive in the third and fourth innings. He then allowed a three-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman, who was picked as one of the five candidates for the final spot on the NL roster for the All-Star game.

Zimmerman, who had three hits and drove in four runs, made the team last season.

Francisco Rodriguez, who lost Saturday's game when he gave up three ninth-inning runs, had another shot. He came in with two runners on and none out in the ninth and retired all three batters he faced to record his 20th save. He was the fifth Mets reliever.

"That's the best thing that can happen. Give me the opportunity the next day to go out there and shut the door, especially after the embarrassing performance that I had," Rodriguez said.

Bay has confidence in K-Rod, and didn't blink when he entered the game to face Adam Dunn, who hit the tying double on Saturday. Rodriguez got Dunn to hit into a fielder's choice.

"The best part of being a closer is having a short memory. That's big in this game," Bay said. "He goes out there and in a tough spot -- it wasn't a gimme one, either -- and he goes out and gets it done."

Wright, who was picked to his fifth straight All-Star team, also had two stolen bases.

"It's never gets old," Wright said about making the team. "It's more important that we're right in the middle of this race."

Game notes
New York SS Jose Reyes was selected to his third All-Star team and hopes to play. He missed his fifth straight game Sunday with lower back tightness. "It's still a week away, so let's see what happens. I think I'm going to play before that," Reyes said. ... Washington RHP Matt Capps was picked to his first All-Star game. He is 2-3 with a 3.19 ERA and 22 saves. He led the player balloting for relief pitchers. "It says that peers and people who see you and are around you all the time think enough of you to think you're one of the best in the league at this time," Capps said. ... Mets RHP Mike Pelfrey was not chosen for the All-Star game despite a 10-2 record and a 2.93 ERA. "I would have liked to have gone and sit there and watched the Home Run Derby with my kid," Pelfrey said. He is scheduled to pitch next Sunday, which would have eliminated him for playing in the game. ... The Mets struck out 14 times, tying a season high.