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Soriano’s teammates defended their manager’s actions.

“Hey, everybody knows how Frank is,” Guillen said. “He doesn’t ask you for much. Just play hard, run the bases hard. If you don’t do it, you know you’re going to have trouble with him.”

The Mets maintained their 4-3 lead until Zimmerman, the 21-year-old third baseman, led off the ninth by crushing a 93 mph fastball from Wagner off the facing of the second deck down the left-field line at Shea.

“[Wagner] was a pretty good guy to get it against,” said Zimmerman, who has become friendly with his fellow Virginia native. “To hit it off him, it just makes it more special.”

The Nationals suddenly had new life, thanks to the first home run of Zimmerman’s budding career. And many of the 19,557 fans who braved 44-degree temperatures to witness the meltdown booed the $43 million closer while watching the Nationals’ ever-maturing rookie accomplish a first.

“Let me tell you something: He doesn’t look like a rookie anymore,” Guillen said. “To me, he looks like he’s a veteran. I think that kid’s going to put up some monster numbers this year.”