Jason Bergmann never got a chance to plead his case to stay in the game after seven shutout innings.
No matter. The pinch-hitter who replaced him made Bergmann a winner.
Willie Harris helped put Washington ahead with a key sacrifice bunt, then saved the slick-fielding Nationals by making a sensational catch in the ninth inning of yesterday's 1-0 victory over the Mets in New York.
"Willie proved to be the deciding factor in this game, didn't he?" said Bergmann, who was called up from Triple A Columbus before the game.
The Mets got another chance to tie the score after Harris' grab, putting a runner on third with one out. Instead, they had a potential rally end on an unusual double play for the second consecutive inning.
Washington took three of four in the series by winning a pitching duel between Bergmann and Mike Pelfrey. The Mets finished 3-4 on their seven-game homestand against last-place teams.
All-Star closer Billy Wagner, who criticized his teammates earlier this season, snapped to reporters after the game, "You should be talking to the guys over there.
"Oh, they're not there. Big shock."
Pelfrey carried a no-hit bid into the seventh before Aaron Boone broke it up with a leadoff single. Starting at first base in place of injured Nick Johnson, Boone also had two crucial assists on those late double plays.
"We're blessed to have him over here," manager Manny Acta said. "He's such a professional player."
Pelfrey (2-4) allowed one run and three hits in 7 2/3 innings, the longest outing of his career, and left to a standing ovation. But he was outdone by Bergmann (1-1), who hadn't started in the majors since April 9 and came in with an 11.68 ERA. Bergmann gave up three hits and struck out nine, one shy of his career high.
In other games:
* At Phoenix, Brandon Webb improved to 9-0 and Chris Snyder hit a three-run homer as Arizona beat Colorado, 8-5.
* At Milwaukee, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent and Gary Bennett homered during a six-run seventh inning, leading Chad Billingsley (3-5) and the Los Angeles Dodgers past the Brewers, 7-2.
* At St. Louis, pinch-hitter Jason Bay's three-run homer off Jason Isringhausen (1-5) snapped an eighth-inning tie and capped Pittsburgh's rally in an 11-5 win over the Cardinals.
* At Chicago, Ryan Dempster (5-1) struck out a career-high 12 and hit a go-ahead single against Greg Maddux (3-4) during a four-run fifth inning, leading the Cubs past San Diego, 4-0.
* At San Francisco, Lance Berkman splashed his major league-leading 15th home run into McCovey Cove, breaking a ninth-inning tie and helping Houston rally past the Giants, 8-7.
* At Cincinnati, the game between Florida and the Reds was postponed because of rain. *