WASHINGTON (AP) - During a week when they had a chance to move into first place in the National League East, the New York Mets' defense has let them down.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy committed two errors, one that contributed to three Washington runs, and the Mets mustered just three hits in a 5-3 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday night.
Lucas Duda drove in a run and walked twice for New York, which has lost three straight. David Wright, Ike Davis and Kirk Nieuwenhuis had the Mets' only hits against Washington starter Edwin Jackson.
New York has lost three straight and is now fourth in the NL East. The Mets committed three errors in a 12-inning loss to the Nationals on Tuesday.
``We haven't played well defensively in the last three games, there's no question, but for the most part we've played pretty good defense all year until now,' said New York manager Terry Collins.
Jeremy Hefner (1-3) allowed four runs, three earned, and seven hits over six innings. Three of those runs came on Adam LaRoche's homer in the first inning.
Bryce Harper reached on an error by Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman walked before LaRoche hit a drive into the right-field bullpen.
``I wish I could have that pitch back,' Hefner said. ``It hung for him practically on a tee.'
Murphy said Hefner never should have had to face LaRoche with two men on.
``I make that play on Harper and he gets to go after Zimmerman with nobody on,' Murphy said. ``He's got to be a little fine with the base open, and LaRoche made him pay, but he never should have been in that position to begin with.'
``It's frustrating,' said Murphy, in his first season as the starter at second base.
``You don't have to look any farther than this locker right here to where to start with some of our poor play the last few days. We got get better, starting with me.'
Jackson (2-3) allowed three runs, two earned, and three hits to earn his first win since April 14 against Cincinnati. The right-hander was 0-3 with a 3.33 ERA in his previous eight starts.
``It's tough to win games when you only get three hits,' Collins said. ``You've got to credit Edwin Jackson. He threw the ball good and we didn't score much.'
Sean Burnett pitched a perfect eighth and Tyler Clippard worked the ninth for his fifth save in six chances.
LaRoche also drove in the Nationals' final run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
``Hefner kept us in and gave us a chance,' Collins said. ``The add-on runs are the ones that hurt us.'
The Mets got on the board in the third. Omar Quintanilla reached on a leadoff walk, advanced on Hefner's sacrifice and scored on Nieuwenhuis' single.
Wright singled and scored on Duda's groundout in the fourth and Quintanilla had a run-scoring bouncer in the seventh but that was it against Jackson, who struck out six and walked four.
Michael Morse also had an RBI single in the fifth for Washington.
NOTES: The Mets activated OF Jason Bay from the 15-day disabled list. Bay had been sidelined with a fractured rib since April 23. He did not play, but Collins said he would on Thursday. RHP Chris Young, who started on Tuesday for the first time in more than a year, went on the paternity list. RHP Pedro Beato was reinstated from the DL. He hadn't pitched this year with shoulder stiffness. INF Josh Satin was designated for assignment. ... Mets INF Ruben Tejada, on the disabled list with a strained right quad, is back in New York for an exam, one day after he took himself out of a minor league game when the quad tightened up. ... Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Morse, who played his fourth game after returning from a strained back muscle, likely would DH when the team plays at Boston on Friday. ... The Mets are scheduled to send RHP R.A. Dickey (8-1, 2.69 ERA) to the mound against Washington RHP Chien-Ming Wang (1-1, 6.43) on Thursday afternoon.
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