By Rich Dubroff
CSNwashington.comBryce Harper turned and ran back until he was almost touching the scoreboard. Lucas Dudas fly ball was beautiful to watch as it stayed in the air for several seconds.When it finally landed, it wasnt in Harpers glove nor was it against the scoreboard, but in the first row of the outfield seats, and Duda had a two-run home run.Almost miraculously, those were the first two runs Chien-Ming Wang allowed in the Nationals 3-1 loss to the New York Mets before 32,096 at Nationals Park on Thursday afternoon. By the fifth inning, Wang, in his second rough start since returning from a left hamstring injury that delayed his season, had given the Mets countless scoring opportunities.
After 5 23 innings, two runs, eight hits, three walks a hit batsman and a collision with first baseman Adam LaRoche, Davey Johnson had seen enough of Wang.Somehow, some way, it was only 2-0 when he left. The Mets loaded the bases in the second and third, but Wang (1-2)ended both innings on grounders hit back to him. In the third, Daniel Murphy hit the ball crisply to him, and Wang started a neat 1-2-3 double play.When Wang returned, Johnson put Ross Detwiler in the bullpen. He may rethink the decision.The Nationals (32-23) did nothing against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. The 37-year-old, who hadnt lasted in the majors for a full season untll last year, recorded his first career shutout in his last start on Saturday, and he simply toyed with Washington.Dickey (9-1) faced just two over the minimum for the first six innings, and allowed just one fly ball, a sinking liner by Steve Lombardozzi that center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis caught only by diving to end the third. Everything else was easy.In the seventh, Ryan Zimmerman led off with a single, just the third Nationals hit. LaRoche, who survived the collision near first base with Wang, in the fourth, walked, but Michael Morse hit into a fielders choice and Ian Desmond hit into a double play.Dickey was pulled after Jhonathan Solano singled with one out in the eighth. He allowed four hits in 7 13 innings, walking two and striking out eight. Bobby Parnell walked Rick Ankiel and ended the inning by retiring Lombardozzi and Harper on groundouts. Zimmerman hit a home run to left-center field, leading off the ninth, breaking the shutout against Frank Francisco. LaRoche, Morse and Desmond were retired, and Francisco had his 15th save.Against Tom Gorzelanny in the seventh, New York (32-26) scored on an RBI single by Daniel Murphy to make it 3-0.
NOTES:-The Mets stole three bases off Solano.-The Nationals play three games at Fenway Park beginning Friday. Stephen Strasburg (6-1, 2.35) is scheduled to face Felix Doubront (6-2, 3.75). Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann pitch on Saturday and Sunday against Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester. Saturdays game will begin at 4:05 p.m.After three games in Toronto, the Nationals return to host the Yankees on June 15.