Embattled Nats bullpen effective vs. Mets

Embattled Nats bullpen effective vs. Mets

NEW YORK -- It's no secret that the weakest link on this first-place Nationals team is its bullpen. But when the club needed the unit to come through during the Nationals' 7-4 win over the Mets on Saturday, four relievers ultimately got the job done.

Manager Dusty Baker needed his bullpen to record the final 11 outs after starter Stephen Strasburg left with a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning.

Enny Romero recorded the final five outs of the game to preserve the lead for Washington, which has taken the first three games of a four-game series in New York. Romero has not surrendered an earned run over his past 12 innings (10 appearances) and has allowed only two inherited runners to score during that span.

"Our bullpen did a great job because they got 11 outs," Baker said. "That's a lot of outs for your bullpen."

Romero notches the save

Baker turned to Blake Treinen in the sixth with runners on first and second and one out. Treinen needed just four pitches to coerce a double-play ball -- one of four the Mets hit into Saturday -- off the bat of T.J. Rivera to escape the inning.

That established a theme of Nationals relievers working themselves out of trouble; the unit gave up two runs, but it made sure Washington ended the game in the win column. In the seventh, lefty Matt Grace jammed Michael Conforto to get a soft popout to third, stranding Jose Reyes at third base in a two-run game.

"The bullpen is confident," Romero said. "We're trying to finish the innings, everybody in the bullpen. We have the confidence."

After Joe Blanton surrendered a home run to Yoenis Cespedes to lead off the eighth, then allowed a one-out single to Wilmer Flores, Romero entered. While he allowed a pair of singles, he was able to keep the damage to one additional run, fanning Rene Rivera to end the frame.

Romero escapes jam

After Conforto reached in the ninth, Romero utilized his two-seam fastball down and in to coax Cespedes into a game-ending double play in the biggest at-bat of the game, according to Baker. It was the latest example of Romero excelling in a high-leverage situation.

"I appreciate the chances," Romero said.

The Mets put up some tough at-bats against Romero, but he kept his composure, which he credited to his success.

"When I [was] behind [in] the count, I went behind the mound, breathed and told myself 'Come on, you can do it,'" Romero said. "Throw strikes.'"

While it took four members of the bullpen to bring home a Nats victory, Baker singled out Romero's performance.

"He threw lights-out," Baker said. "He's finding the plate. He's getting his breaking ball over. He already has an electric fastball.

"Fortunately for us, Enny did his job today."

Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York and covered the Nationals on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.