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“I just see a guy that kind of loses confidence and I see a guy that doesn’t have the presence on the mound,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of Pelfrey.

New York took a 2-0 lead in the first without benefit of a hit out of the infield. Angel Pagan dropped a bunt single, stole second, went to third when shortstop Espinosa bobbled Chris Carter’s grounder and scored on David Wright’s sacrifice fly. Jordan Zimmermann then walked the next three hitters, a free pass to Josh Thole forcing home a run.

Thole’s RBI single made it 3-0 in the third.

After Espinosa’s homer just inside the left-field foul pole in the third, the Nationals chased Pelfrey in the fourth. Washington batted around for the third straight game and Pelfrey walked three batters in the frame.

“They gave me a lead early and we got to the fourth inning and the wheels fell off,” Pelfrey said. “I don’t think you can walk three guys an inning … and expect good things to happen.”

Nyjer Morgan’s RBI single finished Pelfrey. Raul Valdes relieved and hit Adam Kennedy with a pitch before walking Ryan Zimmerman with the bases loaded to force in a run.

Zimmermann worked four innings, allowing three runs — one earned — on three hits.

Rodriguez hit an RBI single in the sixth and Espinosa hit a grand slam off the right-field facade later in the inning.

Notes: Washington RF Willie Harris left the game for precautionary reasons with dizziness after crashing face-first into the scoreboard in right-center while trying to catch Carter’s third-inning double. … Nationals SS Ian Desmond (sore left hamstring) got the day off from the starting lineup, but struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. … Tuesday’s game will feature two starting pitchers making their major league debuts: Washington LHP Yunesky Maya and Mets RHP Dillon Gee. Maya is a Cuban defector who was 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts at three different minor league levels, while Gee went 13-8 with a 4.96 ERA in 28 starts at Triple-A Buffalo. “This year has been unbelievable and especially to end it here. The main goal was just to go out this year and to prove that I’m healthy again,” said Gee, who missed much of 2009 with a right shoulder injury. … Riggleman said Rodriguez and rookie Wilson Ramos would split the starting catcher’s job for the final month of the season. … Pelfrey has a 10.98 ERA in two September starts after posting a 1.20 ERA in five August starts.