WASHINGTON, D.C.— Jon Niese had another fantastic outing, striking out a career-high eight batters against the Nationals, as the Mets beat Washington, 5-3.

The Mets offense seemed to be flat early on for the second straight game, scoring a first-inning run on an Ike Davis RBI groundout.

Niese struck out five of the first nine outs he recorded and allowed one hit in each of the first five innings. 

After the Ike Davis run-scoring groundout, Nationals starter Luis Atilano retired eight straight batters, but it fell apart for him after that.

In the fourth, the Mets scored four runs to take a 5-0 lead. It started off with a David Wright double, which was followed by walks from Davis and Jason Bay, to load the bases with none out. It looked like the Mets may not cash in on the opportunity though as the next two batters made non-productive outs. Alex Cora put an end to the worries as he cracked a three-run triple high off the right field fence. Jon Niese followed with an RBI double down the left field line, extending the lead.

Niese cruised through the first six innings, pitching shutout ball, before giving up a leadoff home run to Josh Willingham in the seventh. He would get the next three outs to pitch seven fine innings. He gave up one run on six hits, struck out eight and walked none.

Bobby Parnell continued his great pitching in relief since his call-up, retiring the side in order in the eighth.

With a four-run lead in the ninth, a rather big lead got quite tight. Pedro Feliciano began the inning by striking out the left-handed hitting Adam Dunn. After getting his man, Jerry Manuel relieved him with Elmer Dessens, who’s only allowed runs in his first outing this season.

Dessens walked a batter, and after getting an out, allowed a double, putting two men in scoring position. With there now being a save-situation, Manuel opted to bring in closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Rodriguez really struggled attempting to record a one-out save. He allowed run-scoring singles to pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina and shortstop Ian Desmond, cutting the Mets lead to 5-3. Then, with Wille Harris pinch-hitting with two men on, Bernadina got picked off second base by Rodriguez on a smart play by shortstop Ruben Tejada, helping the Mets get out of trouble, to win the game.

The Mets really needed the win, as they will have to face Nationals rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow will mark the midway point of the 162-game schedule.

NL East standings (top 3 teams)
Atlanta 47-33
NY Mets 45-35 (2)
Philadelphia 41-37 (5)

Series probable pitchers:
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 3-4 @ Washington Nationals
July 5-7 vs. Cincinnati Reds

Washington Nationals:
July 3-4 vs. New York Mets
July 6-8 vs. San Diego Padres

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