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By the fifth inning, the Nationals trotted out their fourth pitcher - one half of the total they used in 14 innings Sunday.

That total was up to five when Charlie Manning replaced Jason Bergmann in the sixth inning and six once Manning closed out the inning and ended a brief but torturous cameo where he served up back-to-back homers - to Carlos Beltran and Delgado - in the span of three pitches.

When the seventh-inning stretch came, after Mets reliever Scott Schoeneweis struck out Ryan Langerhans to win a matchup so German that the 50,382 in attendance should have been swilling beer out of steins, the two teams had run through a combined 10 pitchers and five pinch hitters.

It was the kind of attrition that favored the deeper Mets, and while New York’s offense took the lead for good off Washington’s relievers, its six relievers held the Nationals to just one earned run on four hits in the game’s final 5 2/3 innings.

“[Joe] Smith was the key,” Acta said. “He stopped us [in the sixth]. It was a tough night for pitchers. They’ve got a very good lineup. You’ve got to pitch ahead, make pitches, and we made way too many mistakes.”