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Spot-starter Carrasco, bullpen leads Nationals

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hector Carrasco hung right in there against a
pitcher with 598 more starts.

Carrasco filled a hole in Washington's rotation with a gutsy
effort, and the Nationals used a three-run third inning to beat Tom
Glavine and the New York Mets 4-2 Tuesday night.

Brad Wilkerson, Marlon Byrd and Preston Wilson each hit an RBI
single to help Washington win the opener of a three-game series
between teams barely on the fringe of the NL wild-card race.

"We got it done tonight. We struggled through it, and nothing
ever comes easy for us. The bullpen did a good job," Nationals
manager Frank Robinson said.

Gary Majewski (4-3) pitched two scoreless innings for a victory,
the Nationals' second in seven games. But Robinson wasn't around to
see the end of it -- he was ejected for the third time this season
in the sixth.

Substitute left fielder Marlon Anderson homered and threw out
Byrd at the plate for the Mets, who lost for the 13th time in 16
games. They just returned home from a 2-8 road trip to Florida,
Atlanta and St. Louis that almost certainly dashed their playoff
hopes.

With right-hander John Patterson recovering from a sinus
infection, the Nationals needed to get creative in finding a
starter, so they turned to Carrasco, who gave up Cal Ripken Jr.'s
3,000th hit in April 2000.

On the last day of that season, Carrasco made his only previous
major league start, for Boston at Tampa Bay. But he had a 2.04 ERA
in 59 relief appearances this year for the Nationals, so they
figured he was as good a choice as any.

The right-hander began laughing when he learned he was starting
on his way to the ballpark at about 2:30 p.m. And he wasn't the
only one surprised.

"He's starting? Wow!" teammate Esteban Loaiza said before the
game.

Carrasco did just fine. He allowed two runs and three hits in
four innings, striking out a career-high six and lasting 74
pitches.

"It is different. You have to try different things, you have to
be careful. I like it," Carrasco said. "I told the guys I could
go nine innings."

Jon Rauch, Joey Eischen and Majewski followed with shutout
relief before Chad Cordero got three outs for his 45th save in 51
tries. Cordero had blown two of his previous three chances.

New York cost itself a chance to rally with some bad bunting and
inexplicable baserunning in the seventh.

Pinch-hitter Jose Offerman drew a leadoff walk, but Jose Reyes
failed to bunt him over and struck out on a high pitch. Kaz Matsui
sent Majewski sprawling to the mound with an apparent single to
center, but Offerman thought the pitcher caught the ball and broke
back to first.

"You've got a second to think about it. You don't have all
day," Offerman said.

He was easily forced out at second by Wilson, and Carlos Beltran
flied out to end the inning.

"It always seems that odd things happen in my games, crazy
things that you don't see every day," Glavine said. "We're not
able to do the things we need to do to win games."

With two on in the eighth, Majewski got Chris Woodward to ground
into an inning-ending double play, preserving a 3-2 lead.

Glavine (10-13) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven
innings for another hard-luck loss.

"Sure, it's frustrating," he said after his 600th career
start. "There's only so much satisfaction you can take out of
it."

The left-hander hit an RBI single in the second, and Anderson
connected leading off the fourth.

The Nationals added a run in the ninth on an ugly, underhand
throwing error by catcher Ramon Castro on Cristian Guzman's
sacrifice bunt.

"The baseball gods are showing me a little bit of everything
this year," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "We just seem to
make a mistake at the most inappropriate time."

Mets right fielder Victor Diaz robbed Jose Guillen of a home run
in the fifth.

Robinson was ejected by plate umpire Jeff Nelson in the sixth
for yelling from the dugout to argue a checked swing by Diaz. The
irate manager then came out and went nose-to-nose with Nelson and
crew chief Joe Brinkman, pointing and hollering before finally
leaving the field after nearly five minutes.

Robinson said he and Nelson have never gotten along. A laptop
computer right outside the manager's office displayed a picture of
Diaz going too far on the disputed check swing.

"All I said to him was that you should have been able to call
that. To me that's not arguing balls and strikes," Robinson said.

Brinkman was the umpire Byrd bumped into on June 4 after he was
ejected for arguing a check-swing call by another ump. The
outfielder won the appeal of his two-game suspension, saying the
contact was unintentional.

Game notes
The Nationals are 11-8 in their last 19 road games. ...
Glavine is 0-3 in his past four starts despite a 2.63 ERA. ...
Roger Clemens (668) and Greg Maddux (635) are the only active
pitchers with more starts than Glavine. He has made at least 30
starts in 10 straight seasons. ... Mets LF Cliff Floyd did not
start because of a tight left hamstring. ... Guzman, who entered
batting .200, doubled twice and scored. He is 14-for-36 (.389) with
a homer against the Mets this year.