The Washington Times - September 18, 2009, 10:58PM

Heading into the home half of the ninth inning at Citi Field on Friday night, the Nats’ 51st win of the season seemed a lot more certain than it turned out to be. Washington had taken a 6-2 lead, getting homers from struggling players like Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Bard and Josh Willingham — the last one an insurance shot in the ninth — but Mike MacDougal walked two, gave up two hits and got burned by some bad fielding.

It turned out OK for the Nats in the end, though; MacDougal retrieved Jeff Francoeur’s comebacker after it knocked his glove off, throwing to Adam Dunn at first to cap a 6-5 win over the Mets.


The victory is Washington’s third straight over the Mets, and the fifth this season against New York — the most against any NL East opponent this year.

“The Mets, kind of like us, we’ve all had a disappointing year,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “They battled. They didn’t quit, and our guys are doing the same thing.”

After the walks and the hits in the ninth, the Nats had a chance to end the game on a grounder to second. But Carlos Beltran beat Ian Desmond’s throw from short, the Nats couldn’t turn a double play, and Desmond fired a hard throw off Adam Dunn’s glove a play later, turning a spectacular stop into a costly throwing error.

Desmond said he didn’t have a firm grip on the ball when he let it go, trying to rush a play to first after the diving stop. But the Nats hung on anyway, snapping a three-game losing streak.

“We needed a win, for sure, to get back and have a decent road trip,” Willingham said. “It was a big win for us.”

Back tomorrow for a 1:10 p.m. start between John Lannan and Tim Redding (remember him?). Talk to you then.