WASHINGTON (AP) - Chien-Ming Wang's first start back in the big leagues was short. The Washington Nationals' losing streak is getting longer.
Wang was rocked for four runs in the first inning and the Nationals' late rally came up short as they lost their sixth straight, 8-5 to the New York Mets on Friday night.
Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Wang gave up six runs and eight hits in four innings. It was his first start July 4, 2009, when he was with the New York Yankees.
After his first innings struggles, Wang settled down, though he allowed two unearned runs in the fourth. He threw 60 pitches with one walk and two strikeouts.
``I was actually impressed,' Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. ``His delivery looked really easy. He had some good velocity on the ball. I was pleased. I really didn't think I was going to see that much.'
Wang (0-1) was signed by the Nationals in February 2010. He made six rehab starts before his Nationals debut.
``I feel really happy and then especially during the game,' Wang said through an interpreter. ``I feel like I can do it again, come back to the mound, especially it's been a while, a long time. I was down in Florida rehabbing for almost two years. Right now, I'm back.'
Jose Reyes drove in two runs for the Mets who won their fifth straight, third in a row since trading former star outfielder Carlos Beltran. Ronny Paulino finished with three hits, and David Wright and Jason Bay each had two.
Dillon Gee (10-3) allowed three runs and four hits over 6 2-3 innings and hit an RBI single in the fourth.
Trailing 6-0 midway through the fourth inning, the Nationals rallied late and had the winning run at the plate in the eighth, but failed to capitalize against a hot Mets ball club.
``It's getting old hat,' said Johnson, his team having lost eight of nine overall. ``Our starting pitching, we've got to have some improvement there. I look for Chien-Ming to give us some improvement there.'
Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Wang's first inning started with a four-pitch walk to the leadoff hitter Reyes. The Mets shortstop took second on a wild pitch, moved to third on Justin Turner's single to center and scored on Daniel Murphy opposite field hit to left. It was the fourth straight game they pushed across a run in the first inning.
Wright hammered a 1-2 slider off the right field wall for a single to load the bases. Angel Pagan hit a two-run single to left on the next pitch for the Mets' fourth consecutive hit.
Wang finally recorded an out on Bay's grounder, but Lucas Duda's sacrifice fly to left scored Wright to make it 4-0. Pagan was caught between second and third and tagged to end the inning.
After retiring eight of nine batters, Wang allowed the Mets put up two runs in the fourth in his final inning. With runners on first and second and no out, Paulino singled to right. Jayson Werth misplayed the ball, but centerfielder Rick Ankiel backed him up and threw Bay out at the plate. The Mets still scored two runs on Gee's grounder up the middle and Reyes' sacrifice to left.
``Once (Wang) got in the second, third inning, he settled down a little bit,' Collins said. ``But the first inning I'm sure he was very nervous, its been a long time and our guys put good swings on him.'
Wang's effort, both on the mound and getting back to the bigs did not go unnoticed by his teammates.
``He fought through and stayed with it,' Ryan Zimmerman said. He stayed with it, worked his butt off and made it back. And I think we're all proud.'
In the fourth the Nationals loaded the bases with one out. Laynce Nix grounded to second base for a potential inning-ending double play, but Reyes' throw to first base for the final out was wild, allowing two runs to score.
In the fourth, Ankiel hit a sacrifice fly.
The Nationals plated two runs off three Mets relievers in the eighth to make it 8-5 and had the bases loaded with one out. D.J. Carrasco entered and struck out Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman to end the threat.
``We gave ourselves chances,' Zimmerman said. ``That's tough to do against that team, they've been playing good.'
NOTES: Wright has gotten a hit in all eight games since coming of the disabled list on July 22, and has multiple hits in seven of the eight games. ... Nationals OF Roger Bernadina was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Wang. The Nationals' primary CF since Davey Johnson was hired as manager, Bernandina was hitting .247 with five homers, 20 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 71 games this season, but was hitless over his last 20 at_bats.
The Associated Press News Service
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