Tom Gorzelanny kept this drive by Carlos Beltran in the ballpark. Jerry Hairston Jr. didn't do his part.
Hairston muffed Beltran's fly to left-center in the sixth inning — after Beltran hit two early home runs — and the New York Mets then rallied for three crucial runs in an 8-4 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.
"I had a good jump on it. It was one of those things — left-center field. I knew Ricky (Ankiel) has very good speed. ... At the last second I kind of felt something like maybe he was going to go after it and I kind of pulled away," Hairston said. "I missed it flat out."
Ike Davis hit a two-run triple an out after the misplay to give New York a 5-4 lead. Pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy then had an RBI single through a drawn-in infield to give the Mets two big hits after they went 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position the previous two games.
The defeat ended Washington's modest two-game win streak.
"I put us behind the 8-ball tonight. I really feel responsible for the loss," Hairston said.
Chris Capuano (1-0) pitched six gutsy innings in his first start for the Mets — and first in April since 2007 — as New York rebounded after dropping its home opener to the Nationals on Friday.
The left-hander gave up a three-run homer to Danny Espinosa and a solo shot to Ian Desmond but only two other hits. He struck out eight and walked one. Capuano also hit a one-out double in the fifth but was stranded.
The Nationals had a chance in the third to add on, loading the bases with one out. But Wilson Ramos struck out looking and Ankiel was robbed by shortstop Jose Reyes, his second stellar play with the bases loaded in two nights. Ankiel hit a popup to shallow left and Reyes raced back for an over-the-shoulder catch.
"We had opportunities to add on to what little lead we had, and Capuano made the necessary pitches to get out of the inning and shut us down," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said.
The Nationals, trailing 6-4, had first and second with none out in the eighth when Ankiel hit a long drive off Bobby Parnell that soared just foul. But Parnell struck out the next two batters and Francisco Rodriguez relieved and induced pinch-hitter Matt Stairs into a groundout before finishing for his first save since Aug. 10.
Playing on creaky knees, Beltran came in hitting just .190 over the first seven games this season. But he took Gorzelanny (0-1) deep for a two-run shot in the first and hit a solo drive to nearly the same spot in left field in the fourth, both hits coming after David Wright struck out.
"Gorzelanny did a good job. I was encouraged by his outing. I thought he pitched it smart," Riggleman said. "Gave us a chance and kept us in the game.
Beltran, who missed much of the past two seasons because of knee trouble and switched from center field to right this spring to limit the wear and tear, had his 28th multihomer game.
"Every time you do something to help the team is a good feeling," Beltran said.
Brian Broderick replaced Gorzelanny in the sixth and Murphy hit a grounder past Desmond, playing on the infield grass, for another run.
The Mets came in 8 for 40 against Gorzelanny, who was making his first start for Washington since being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs in the offseason. He gave up five runs — four earned — and four hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out eight and walked two.
NOTES: Nationals 1B Adam LaRoche was given the day off. He has a sore shoulder and Riggleman wanted to give him a rest against a lefty starter. Riggleman said surgery was never discussed as an option for LaRoche, who's been bothered by the shoulder since spring training. LaRoche said he aggravated the injury in Florida on Tuesday. ... Mets manager Terry Collins said knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who split a nail on his index finger Friday, told him he'll be ready to make his next start. ... Mets LF Jason Bay (strained left rib cage) took soft toss swings and hit off a tee Saturday. Collins said Bay is supposed to take batting practice Sunday. ... Mets C Ronny Paulino's 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug ended. That means the Mets will have to place him on the disabled list before Sunday's game. Paulino is sidelined by problems with his stomach and colon.