NEW YORK (AP) — Roger Bernadina hit his first two major league homers, including a tiebreaking shot off Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning, and made a marvelous catch to lead the surprising Washington Nationals past the New York Mets 6-4 on Wednesday.
Starting pitcher Craig Stammen drove in three early runs with a pair of hits for the Nationals (19-15), who took two of three from New York to win their third straight series — all against NL East foes.
Coming off consecutive 59-win seasons, second-place Washington improved to 4-2 this year at Citi Field and 6-1-1 in their last eight series overall.
Tyler Clippard (7-1) worked a hitless eighth, shaking off the loss he took Tuesday night when the Nationals squandered a four-run lead in the eighth.
Clippard began the day tied with Roy Halladay and Ubaldo Jimenez for the major league lead in wins.
Matt Capps tossed a perfect ninth for his big league-best 14th save in 14 chances, sending what was left of the sparse crowd home on a damp and misty, 48-degree day.
Cristian Guzman singled off Rodriguez (2-1) with one out in the ninth. One out later, Bernadina, known for speed but not power, drove an 0-1 delivery into the Washington bullpen in right-center for his third hit of the game.
New York tied it at 4 by scoring twice in the fifth off Stammen. Angel Pagan doubled, Alex Cora hit a run-scoring single and Jose Reyes lined an RBI double down the right-field line to snap a 9-for-44 slump.
Moments later, the Mets appeared poised to take the lead when Jeff Francoeur sliced a bases-loaded drive to deep right. But Bernadina retreated quickly on the slick grass and, with a fully extended dive, robbed Francoeur of an extra-base hit that surely would have scored three.
Francoeur, who entered in a 12-for-80 slide, slammed his helmet to the ground in frustration after rounding first.
Washington went ahead in the second inning. Adam Dunn hit a leadoff double and went to third on Guzman's single. A walk to Willie Harris loaded the bases with nobody out, but Mike Pelfrey nearly wriggled out of the jam. He struck out Bernadina and Wil Nieves, leaving only the pitcher in his way.
Stammen, however, lined a 2-2 pitch through the left side for a two-run single.
Pelfrey also produced at the plate, hitting an RBI single in the bottom half that preceded Pagan's sacrifice fly.
Bernadina hit a solo shot to right with two outs in the fourth. Nieves followed with a double and Stammen bounced a single up the middle to make it 4-2.
It was the eighth major league RBI for Stammen, who owns a .244 career average in 45 at-bats.
NOTES: Stammen's three RBIs were the most by a Nationals pitcher since the franchise moved to Washington. Guillermo Mota, pitching in relief, also drove in three runs on June 9, 1999, for the Montreal Expos against Boston. ... Nationals C Ivan Rodriguez, batting .383, was rested. ... Pelfrey was pulled after 5 2-3 innings. He threw 119 pitches, matching a career high. ... Reyes, moved from leadoff to No. 3 in the lineup on April 23, was 7 for 38 (.184) with runners in scoring position this season before his double drove in Cora from second base. ... Washington RHP Jason Marquis, placed on the 15-day disabled list last month, thinks there's a good chance he needs surgery to clean out bone chips from his ailing right elbow.