WASHINGTON (AP) - Terry Collins insisted he didn't want to walk Roger Bernadina. He knew Ryan Zimmerman was next. Zimmerman's game-winning hit didn't make the New York Mets' manager regret his decision.
Zimmerman's short fly ball with one out in the ninth dropped into right field for a single, driving in two runs and giving the Washington Nationals a wild 8-7 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday night.
With the Mets leading 7-6, Jesus Flores sent a leadoff single into left field for his third hit of the game. Brian Bixler then came in to run, and Bobby Parnell (3-5) walked Jonny Gomes to put runners on first and second. Bixler and Gomes advanced on Ian Desmond's sacrifice before Bernadina was walked intentionally.
Zimmerman then dumped a pitch into short right. Lucas Duda dove for the ball, but it skipped past him.
Collins explained his decision to face a player who's won countless games for Washington in improbable fashion.
``I didn't want to, but I know that we've got to try to get a double play,' Collins said. ``Bernadina's going to put the ball in play. We're going to end up facing Zimmerman anyway. So we might as well just put him on - and he broke his bat in half, so it wasn't that bad a pitch.'
Duda's seventh-inning sacrifice fly gave the Mets a 7-6 lead.
Sean Burnett (5-5), Washington's fifth pitcher, had a scoreless ninth to help the Nationals get their second win in 11 games.
The Mets, who had won seven of eight, were headed for an impressive comeback win before Washington's rally in the ninth.
The Nationals built an early 5-0 lead behind starting pitcher Tom Milone, who made his major league debut after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday.
With runners on second and third and one out in the second inning, Washington third base coach Bo Porter beckoned Milone over for a chat. With the Mets' infield in expecting a bunt, Milone swung away and hit the first pitch from Dillon Gee into the Nationals' bullpen for a three-run homer.
Excited new teammates in the bullpen jumped up and down as the ball sailed over their heads behind the right-field fence. The stunning shot gave the Nationals a 5-0 lead.
``The second inning - a three-run home run to the pitcher - that put us in a pretty big hole. To start the game off in a hole like that is always tough to overcome but everybody else did a great job tonight, I just didn't do my part tonight,' Gee said.
According to STATS LLC and the SABR Home Run Log, Milone is the eighth pitcher to homer on the first pitch he saw in the majors. The last to do it was Adam Wainwright for St. Louis on May 24, 2006.
``We were told going into the game that he was a good hitting pitcher,' Gee said. ``He put a good a swing on it and pulled it. I definitely wish I could have it back, but it's just one of those things.'
Milone didn't make it out of the fifth inning. Ronny Paulino singled with one out in the third for New York's first baserunner, and the Mets scored four times in the fourth. Angel Pagan hit a two-run single and scored on Nick Evans' fourth homer, a drive to left on a 2-2 pitch for his second shot in two nights.
With one out in the fifth, Milone was replaced by Tom Gorzelanny.
Bernadina, who was recalled from Syracuse on Friday, hit his sixth home run in the fifth to give Washington a 6-4 lead.
The Mets responded in the sixth, getting a tying two-run shot from Jason Bay. It was Bay's 10th homer of the season.
Desmond led off the first with a drive to left for his sixth homer.
NOTES: Bay's home run broke an 0-for-35 skid on the road - a team record for a position player. ... RHP Livan Hernandez (8-12) is scheduled to make his final start of the season on Sunday for Washington, opposing RHP Mike Pelfrey (7-11). Pelfrey is 0-3 with a 4.74 ERA in four starts at Nationals Park. ... Mets LHP Johan Santana pitched two innings for Class-A St. Lucie in his first rehab assignment since July 28. He allowed a run and three hits.
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