Major Leagues: Mets 10, Nationals 8
By Howie Rumberg
NEW YORK ó Carlos Delgado hit two impressive homers for the second straight game, Carlos Beltran had a go-ahead shot to reach 100 RBIs and the New York Mets increased their NL East lead by beating the scrappy Washington Nationals 10-8 Tuesday night.
Ryan Church also homered, Jose Reyes snapped an 0-for-15 slide with two hits and the Mets started a stretch of 12 games against the bottom two teams in the division with an offensive display that offset Oliver Perez’s rough outing.
New York moved 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia, which lost 10-8 to Florida.
Every Mets starter except for Perez had a hit by the fourth inning, including David Wright, who took extra batting practice on the field with manager Jerry Manuel and hitting coach Howard Johnson. Wright was 4-for-21 coming in but had two hits and an RBI.
New York won when giving up eight or more runs for the third time this year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Mets beat Philadelphia 10-9 on July 7 and Cincinnati 10-8 on July 17.
Luis Ayala pitched a perfect ninth for his first save since the Mets learned Monday that Billy Wagner will have elbow ligament replacement surgery and miss the rest of the season and likely all of next year, too. It was Ayala’s sixth save in seven chances since coming to the Mets last month in a trade with Washington.
Joe Smith (4-3), the fourth of seven Mets pitchers, worked 12/3 innings for the win.
Delgado homered twice Sunday night in the second game of a doubleheader against the Phillies, sending one shot 460 feet. On Tuesday, his first home run, off John Lannan, smashed off the scoreboard in right-center, about 440 feet away.
Delgado’s second homer followed Beltran’s two-run drive that gave the Mets a 9-8 lead in the sixth, and the 50,382 fans at Shea Stadium chanted “MVP! MVP!” five pitches into Fernando Tatis’ at-bat for the first baseman who has nearly carried New York’s offense during the second half of the season.
The back-to-back homers, the sixth time for the Mets this season, came off Charlie Manning (1-3).
Delgado has 68 RBIs in his last 66 games and four multihomer games in his last 13. His 35 homers this season give him 466 for his career, one more than Hall of Famer Dave Winfield for 30th place.
Delgado finished 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored. He has seven multihomer games this year, matching Dave Kingman’s club record set in 1976.
Damion Easley gave the Mets a 2-0 lead with a two-run double in the second, but Perez gave up a two-run homer to Cristian Guzman in the third.
The Mets went up 5-2 in the third behind Church’s solo shot and Delgado’s two-run drive. But the Nationals scored five times while batting around in the fourth to go ahead 7-5.
Perez’s night ended after 3 1-3 innings, his shortest outing since being yanked after 1 2-3 innings on April 30, when he also gave up seven runs.
Anderson Hernandez, the player to be named in the Ayala trade, had three RBIs for Washington.
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