WASHINGTON (AP) - All day long, Livan Hernandez basked in the applause. When he walked in from the bullpen, he waved his cap. When manager Davey Johnson removed him from the game, he tipped his cap to the home plate umpire and again waved his cap in response to the warm ovation.
Too bad he didn't pitch well.
Hernandez left the game after giving up a game-tying home run and loaded the bases with three singles before his old teammate Willie Harris came up to pinch hit.
He gave up six runs in what was likely his last game with the Washington Nationals in their 6-3 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday.
While the Mets won two of three this weekend, it was clearly Hernandez's day.
``I've had a great career here,' Hernandez said.
Hernandez was the starter in the Nationals' home opener after the franchise moved here for the 2005 season.
``The first year was unbelievable,' Hernandez said.
He pitched in Washington in 2005 and most of 2006 before returning late in the 2009 season. At 36, he badly wants to return - even as a reliever - and wants to win 200 games. He's 24 short.
``Let's see what happens,' Hernandez said. ``Something good is going to happen. I don't know - here - or somewhere else.'
Openly campaigning to stay, Hernandez (8-13) invited General Manager Mike Rizzo to do some comparison shopping. ``Compare the guys who throw 200 innings - and I'm the cheapest guy on the list,' Hernandez said.
Lucas Duda hit a long home run to center field with one out in the sixth to tie the score at 3.
After David Wright, Jose Pagan and Jason Bay singled to load the bases, Johnson walked out to hook Hernandez.
``I wish there was a better outing - a better ending,' Johnson said.
The 36-year-old pounded fists with his catcher, Wilson Ramos and infielders, shook Johnson's hand and trudged off the mound. Savoring his moment, Hernandez tipped his cap to home plate umpire Brian O'Nora and acknowledged the crowd's roars by walking slowly off the mound and another wave of his cap.
``That was very nice. I appreciated the support,' Hernandez said.
Ryan Zimmerman has played with Hernandez longer than any other teammate.
``He's done a lot for this organization,' Zimmerman said. ``He's had a great career. I don't think anyone thinks it's the end of it.'
Todd Coffey's first pitch was hit sharply by Harris over first base for two runs, and Mike Nickeas squeezed home Bay with a bunt to make it 6-3.
Ryota Igarashi (3-1) was the winner. After starter Mike Pelfrey walked the bases loaded with two outs in the fifth, Igarashi retired the only batter he faced.
Josh Stinson pitched two scoreless innings, Jason Isringhausen a scoreless eighth and Bobby Parnell the ninth for his fifth save.
The Mets scored two runs off Hernandez in the third. Josh Statin led off with a single - his first major league hit. Nickeas followed with a single. Pelfrey advanced them with a bunt, and Ruben Tejada punched an opposite-field single to right to score both.
The Nationals took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third off Pelfrey. Jayson Werth led off with a walk. Rick Ankiel singled, and Werth scored on Danny Espinosa's double. Ankiel scored on Chris Marrero's infield out, and Espinosa came in on Ramos' double.
NOTES: Espinosa had three hits. ... Nationals 1B Michael Morse was given the day off. ... The Mets begin a three-game series in Florida on Monday. LHP Chris Capuano (10-11) is scheduled to face the Marlins' RHP Javier Vazquez (8-11). Capuano is 4-4 with a 3.55 ERA in 13 games against Florida. ... The Nationals host the Los Angeles Dodgers for four games beginning Monday. John Lannan (8-11) will pitch for Washington against Hiroki Kuroda (11-14).
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved