Nats cap season off with extra-innings win

Nats cap season off with extra-innings win

NEW YORK -- On the last day of the 2010 season, the Nationals defeated the Mets, 2-1, in 14 innings on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

It marked the second year in a row that the Nationals ended their season with an extra-innings victory. Last year, Washington defeated the Braves by the score of -- you guessed it -- 2-1, in 15 innings.

"It was funny because the guys were telling me that it has become kind of a tradition," said reliever Miguel Batista who picked up his second save of the season. "Last year, they went 15 innings against the Braves. My first question was, 'Did you guys win?' They said, 'Yes.' I said, 'I didn't want to stay this long and lose.'"

The Nationals won their 69th game of the season and manager Jim Riggleman made it known that he wasn't happy about how the season turned out. It didn't help that the offense was a disappointment even though they had Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn this year. They were near the bottom in a lot of offensive categories.

"Most of the guys -- individually -- had an OK year statistically, but you put it all together and it just didn't work," Riggleman said. "On paper, it looked OK, but it didn't turn into a lot of runs scored. That is the point of the game -- you try to outscore the opponent -- and we just didn't score enough runs.

"There are a couple of categories that we are not real good in -- situational hitting, on-base percentage. Those two things have to go up a little more. Man on third with less than two out and getting the runner in. Surprisingly, throughout baseball, it seems like it's not a tough thing to do -- to get that runner in from third with less than two outs. But it's less than 50 percent throughout baseball that it really happens."

Washington's offense wasn't working during most of the game. The club collected eight hits, left nine men on base and went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Washington's first run was scored in the fifth inning, when Alberto Gonzalez took a Mike Pelfrey pitch and singled to right field, scoring Roger Bernadina.

The Mets tied the score off Livan Hernandez in the bottom of the inning, when Angel Pagan scored on a double-play ball hit by Josh Thole.

Fast-forward to the 14th inning when Washington would take the lead for good. With the bases loaded and one out, left-hander Oliver Perez walked Justin Maxwell to send home Adam Kennedy, who reached base after getting hit by a pitch, to give the Nationals the edge.

"I was looking for a pitch up to drive. It was a real good at-bat," Maxwell said. "It's really hats off to our bullpen for keeping them scoreless."

Nationals relievers shut out the Mets for 7 1/3 innings. The bullpen was one bright spot for Washington. The Nationals lead the Major Leagues in innings pitched and ranked in the top five with a 3.30 ERA.

The bullpen is the least of the Nationals' problems. Batista said the Nationals have to find a way to reach the status of the Yankees and Phillies.

"The skipper said all year long that it needs to be cleaned up," Batista said. "On my behalf, you need to play with pride and you need to -- I wouldn't say compete. We need to beat people. There are some teams out there that go play and they look like they are superior. That can't happen. We need to go out there -- make people afraid to go to Washington like people don't want to go to Yankee Stadium, they don't want to go to Philadelphia. We need to play [in] that kind of environment in D.C., where fans can be proud of the team that we have."

Batista said the biggest need for the team is getting a front of the rotation starter, who could help Hernandez.

"We have to have a consistent starting rotation," Batista said. "We need a main guy in the rotation. I haven't seen some of the prospects because most of them were hurt -- [Jordan] Zimmermann, [Ross] Detwiler and we all know what [Stephen] Strasburg could do. We just need to make sure he's healthy.

"We need a front horse -- somebody that shows the kids the lead. We have one of the best bullpens in both leagues. We threw a lot of innings this year and we did a respectable job. But we need our starting rotation to get consistent and keep on hitting."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.