WASHINGTON, D.C.—Mets manager Jerry Manuel made some curious decisions concerning the lineup for this game and it came back to hurt the offense. With Jose Reyes still out of the lineup due to back problems, Manuel decided to give Jason Bay a night off, and he also sat Angel Pagan out, although it turned out he was available to start.

With all that being said, the Mets offense was flat for the third time this season against Livan Hernandez. After a fantastic start with the Nationals this season, Hernandez had come back down to earth, posting an ERA over 5.00 in the month of June.

The Mets did start off well against him, scoring a run on four hits in the first two innings. They got their run in the first on an Ike Davis RBI single, scoring Jesus Feliciano, who led off the game with a single.

The Mets stranded two runners in scoring position in the second, holding a 1-0 lead. Johan Santana was on the mound, trying to recover from a rocky June, where in each of his last four starts he allowed four or more runs.

In this game, he was vintage Santana. He only allowed one hit in the first three innings and shut the Nationals out over the first six innings. But just like the Mets have been doing over Santana’s career starts as a Met, they didn’t score a whole lot for him.

After their first inning run, the Mets never scored another run in the game. That means Santana had to shut the Nationals out. Although he was pretty good, he wasn’t that good, allowing the game-tying run in the seventh.

The inning started with a single by shortstop Ian Desmond. Wil Nieves bunted him to second. Santana struck pinch-hitter Alberto Gonzalez out, but then gave up an RBI single to Nyger Morgan. Desmond moved to third during Morgan’s at-bat on a wild pitch. Santana would get the next batter to fly out, keeping the game tied 1-1.

Livan Hernandez pitched just as well as Santana.  Both pitchers went seven innings while allowing one run and striking out seven. The Mets went down quickly in the eighth to reliever Drew Storen. Santana was pulled after seven to his dismay, as he tried talking his way to pitching another inning.

Instead, Elmer Dessens came on. He put two men on after getting an out, and gave way to Pedro Feliciano. After Feliciano got out of the inning unscathed, he got into trouble in the ninth.

After getting the first out, Feliciano walked the light-hitting left-hander Willie Harris. The next batter, Nyger Morgan, also a light-hitting left-hander, beat out a bunt hit. Cristian Guzman singled to left, but Harris stopped at third. With the bases loaded and one out, Manuel brought in Ryota Igarashi. The Mets brought the left fielder Jesus Feliciano in to be a fifth infielder. Igarashi fell behind Ryan Zimmeran 2-0, before Zimmerman hit the game-winning sacrifice fly out to right field.

The Mets lost the game 2-1 as they fell to 7-10 in Santana’s 17 starts this season. They are now 1-3 on the road trip.

They will try to win tomorrow night’s game with who just may be their most consistent starting pitcher of late, Jon Niese, on the mound. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Luis Atilano.

NL East standings (games back)
Atlanta 46-33
NY Mets 44-35 (2)
Philadelphia 41-36 (4)

Series probable pitchers:
July 2
New York: Jon Niese (2010: 5-2, 3.84 ERA) vs. Washington: Luis Atilano (2010: 6-4, 4.33 ERA)
July 3
New York: R.A. Dickey (2010: 6-1, 2.98 ERA) vs. Washington: Stephen Strasburg (2010: 2-2, 2.27 ERA)
July 4
New York: Hisanori Takahashi (2010: 6-3, 4.24 ERA) vs. Washington: Craig Stammen (2010: 2-2, 5.13 ERA)

Upcoming schedule:
New York Mets:
July 2-4 @ Washington Nationals
July 5-7 vs. Cincinnati Reds

Washington Nationals:
July 2-4 vs. New York Mets
July 6-8 vs. San Diego Padres

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