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Win for Nick: Soriano, Nats honor hurt Johnson vs. Mets

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Washington Nationals found the perfect way
to honor first baseman Nick Johnson while he was lying in the
hospital Sunday with a broken right leg.

Playing with Johnson's jersey hanging in the dugout and their
socks pulled high in his favorite style, the Nationals beat the
slumping New York Mets 5-1 behind Alfonso Soriano and Tony Armas
Jr.

"Just a good gesture. I hope Nick saw it. He knows we miss
him," catcher Brian Schneider said.

Armas pitched six strong innings for his first victory in seven
starts since Aug. 18 and Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI double for
Washington, which sent the NL East champions to their seventh
defeat in 10 games.

"Was that like, win one for the Gipper?" Nationals manager
Frank Robinson said. "That just kind of got the guys up a little
bit."

Trying to secure a spot in New York's postseason rotation, Steve
Trachsel (15-8) allowed three runs in five-plus innings. He dropped
to 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA in his last four starts -- not exactly what
the Mets were looking for heading into October.

"Tryouts are for spring training. If 15 wins is not enough,
then I don't know," Trachsel said.

The Mets have lost four of five to Florida and Washington.

Armas (9-12) gave up five hits, including Jose Valentin's 18th
homer. He walked none and struck out four, earning only his third
win since coming off the disabled list on July 17. He had been out
with a strained right forearm.

Armas was 0-4 in his previous six starts since beating
Philadelphia 6-4.

"I just want to be able to go out there every five days and be
healthy," he said. "I know I can do my job."

Billy Traber, Jon Rauch and Saul Rivera finished the
five-hitter. Rauch got through the eighth unscathed thanks to fine
plays by right fielder George Lombard and center fielder Ryan
Church.

One day after Johnson was hurt in a gruesome collision with
right fielder Austin Kearns, the Nationals got a nice all-around
game from Soriano, the first player in major league history with 40
homers, 40 steals and 40 doubles in one season.

"That's been what he's done all year long for us. He doesn't
have to always hit a home run to help this ballclub," Robinson
said. "His overall game, he brings a lot to the table."

Soriano hit a sacrifice fly in the first, doubled and scored in
the fifth, and threw out a runner on the bases from left field.

Cliff Floyd tried to stretch a single in the fourth, but Soriano
cut him down out at second for his major league-leading 22nd
outfield assist.

"I enjoy every part of the game," Soriano said. "That's why I
love this game."

Trachsel pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings in the division clincher
Monday night against Florida. This time, however, he walked his
first batter, Bernie Castro, who scored on Soriano's sacrifice fly.

Another walk helped the Nationals load the bases with none out
in the second, and a run scored on Armas' double-play grounder.

Valentin connected leading off the fifth, a shot into the
right-field bullpen.

Soriano opened the sixth with a double that glanced off the
glove of third baseman Chris Woodward. Zimmerman followed with his
second double of the day, making it 3-1 and chasing Trachsel, who
yielded eight hits and three walks while throwing 92 pitches.

"He got some work in," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "I
don't look at Steve Trachsel like he's auditioning for a spot. He's
been one of our best pitchers this year. It's not like it's the
first time he's been around the block. When he gets runners on
base, he knows how to handle that."

Brandon Harper doubled leading off the seventh against Darren
Oliver and scored on a double by pinch-hitter Henry Mateo that
appeared to bounce foul down the first-base line. First base umpire
Tim McClelland initially signaled foul, then reversed his call.

Mateo scored on an RBI single by Felipe Lopez for a 5-1
cushion.

Game notes
Mets CF Carlos Beltran missed his sixth straight game with
a strained quadriceps but is expected to play Monday night. ... New
York SS Jose Reyes stole two bases, giving him 60 this season and
matching his NL-leading total from last year. ... The Nationals
improved to 5-9 against the Mets this season. ... RHP Philip Humber
made his major league debut for the Mets and pitched a hitless
ninth with one strikeout.