By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Marlon Byrd maintained his mastery of Dan Haren with a pair of home runs, and the New York Mets broke a four-game losing streak by pounding the Washington Nationals 10-1 on Wednesday night.
The win put the Mets above .400 and the Nationals below .500 _ a succinct reflection of the mixed fortunes of both clubs _ and also dropped preseason favorite Washington to third place behind Philadelphia in the NL East. The Nationals trail division-leading Atlanta by eight games.
Byrd hit a two-run homer in the second and a solo shot in the third, making him 10 for 18 in his career against Haren (4-7) and more than compensating for a pair of adventures in right field. Byrd misplayed a double by Denard Span that led to a Nationals run and couldn’t quite make the catch on a fly ball by Jayson Werth in foul territory.
Dillon Gee (4-6) allowed one run and nine hits over seven innings in his second consecutive solid start after his spot in the rotation had been put in doubt by a series of short outings. The run came in the first inning after Byrd’s misplay, when Span came around to score on a single by Ian Desmond.
David Wright, in a 1-for-18 slump entering the game, also homered for the Mets in the third inning. He then singled and scored in the two-run fifth. Catcher Anthony Recker doubled his season RBI total from three to six with a two-run single in the fifth and a run-scoring double in the seventh. Rookie center fielder Juan Lagares had his first three-hit game in the majors.
Even Gee joined in the attack, getting a sacrifice in the fourth and putting a foul ball in the upper deck in a nine-pitch at-bat in the fifth. When he got a single in the seventh, it meant that all nine Mets starters had at least one hit.
The Nationals felt buoyed by a ninth-inning comeback in the series opener Tuesday, the first time they had come from behind to win this season when trailing after the sixth inning. Manager Davey Johnson was clean-shaven Wednesday, ending a razor boycott he had said would last until his team started hitting.
But Washington’s bats remained cold. The Nationals have scored 11 runs while hitting .197 with 42 strikeouts over six games. They had men on second and third with one out in the fourth inning, but Span struck out swinging and Werth struck out looking.
The Nationals are also getting familiar with blowouts. They lost for the ninth time by six or more runs, passing last year’s total of eight with more than 100 games to go.
Meanwhile, the starting rotation that has performed so well is showing some cracks. Stephen Strasburg, sidelined with a strained back muscle, joined Ross Detwiler on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday.
NOTES: Black smoke was visible beyond the right-field bleachers throughout the game, the result of a massive fire at a hardware store about a mile away. The smoke wafted over the dome of the nearby U.S. Capitol nearby but did not drift over the ballpark and had no effect on the game. … Nationals LHP Ian Krol made his major league debut by pitching one inning, allowing one hit and striking out the side in the sixth, and Anthony Rendon made his first major league start at second base, taking over the position now that Danny Espinosa is on the DL with wrist and shoulder injuries. … Mets LHP Jonathon Niese threw a bullpen session and said he feels on target to return to the rotation Saturday after missing one start with a sore shoulder. … Mets manager Terry Collins said RHP Jeurys Familia might be done for the season after having surgery to remove bone spurs and loose bodies in the right elbow. “I don’t think we’ll have him this year,” Collins said.
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