WASHINGTON | Ryan Zimmerman refused to let the unusual defensive alignment throw him off at the plate.
Five infielders. No problem.
Zimmerman hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning, giving the Washington Nationals a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday night.
Even a gaping hole in left field — Jesus Feliciano was brought into the infield — didn’t deter Zimmerman from trying to hit the ball to the power alley in right-center.
“You don’t want to get away from what you do,” he said. “If you try to pull the ball too much, you hit into a double play. You kind of take what they give you. Once I got 2-0, I was obviously in the driver’s seat. I was just trying to drive the ball to right-center like I always do.”
Pinch-hitter Willie Harris started the decisive rally with one out in the ninth by walking on a full-count pitch from Pedro Feliciano (2-4). Nyjer Morgan pushed a perfect drag bunt between first and the pitcher’s mound to put runners at first and second.
Cristian Guzman singled to left but Jesus Feliciano cut off the sharply hit ball and forced Harris to stop at third, loading the bases. Ryota Igarashi relieved Feliciano.
The Mets stationed Jesus Feliciano on the shortstop side of second base in a drawn-in infield, and Zimmerman flied to right field for the game-winner.
“It’s nice to win a one-run game,” Zimmerman said of the Nationals’ 12th come-from-behind victory and eighth in their last at-bat.
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur thought he might be able to throw out Harris at the plate, but Zimmerman got the ball just deep enough.
“It was too far. It kept carrying,” Francoeur said. “At first I thought I (had a play) but (Zimmerman) did what he’s supposed to do. Zim’s probably one of the better players at doing that, going to right field with a fly ball like that.”
Mets manager Jerry Manuel once again lamented the lack of a consistent relief option for late, close games.
“I think what we have to do, with the limited amount of choices in our bullpen, guys have to come in and be ready to do whatever’s needed,” Manuel said.
Matt Capps (1-3) worked the ninth.
Washington, which had lost six of seven, avoided dropping a season-worst 12 games under .500. The Mets have lost three of four games.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead on Ike Davis’ RBI single in the first but could not give Johan Santana more support. After allowing at least four runs in each of his last four starts, Santana held the Nationals scoreless until the seventh — his last inning.
Ian Desmond led off the inning with a single, advanced on a sacrifice and moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored with two outs when Morgan hit a 2-2 fastball between shortstop and third base to tie it 1-all.
Santana allowed a run on six hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
Desmond led off the bottom of the fifth by hitting a ball deep to left-center that glanced off the padding of the section of seats to the right of the bullpen. The ball was initially ruled in play by second base umpire Scott Barry and Desmond chugged into second.
The crew huddled next to the pitcher’s mound, then all but Barry went down the tunnel to the umpires’ dressing room for a video review. After a minute, they returned to the field upholding Barry’s original call.
“I saw fans standing there like they were ready to catch that ball and I just knew that ball was gone. … I was shocked that ball stayed in; that’s why I had them review it. I thought it had to hit back there on that concrete somewhere,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said of Desmond’s drive.
Washington starter Livan Hernandez yielded one run and seven hits over seven innings, walking none and striking out a season-high seven.
NOTES: After the game, the Nationals reinstated C Carlos Maldonado (broken right thumb) from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse. … Mets SS Jose Reyes (lower back tightness) and CF Angel Pagan (right side muscle spasms) were both out of the lineup for a second consecutive game. Pagan pinch ran in the sixth inning, remaining in the game to play defense, and expects to start Friday. Manuel hopes to have Reyes back by Saturday. … Former Washington OF Elijah Dukes, cut in spring training, signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Newark (N.J.) Bears on Thursday. … The Mets, flying from San Juan, Puerto Rico, didn’t arrive in Washington until 7 a.m. Thursday morning. Manuel said Major League Baseball should consider giving teams in a similar situation a day off for travel.