NEW YORK -- Stephen Strasburg isn't the only talented young pitcher wearing the curly W.
"I was pretty happy with it," Peacock said.
Peacock followed his usual routine, warming up in the bullpen and then tossing the ball to his dad. Once he reached the mound for his first start in the majors, Peacock reminded himself to do something else to settle down: "Take deep breaths."
Peacock's father and mother were waiting outside the Washington clubhouse, eager to share the moment with several family members and friends.
"We always knew major league baseball was home for him," Jerry Peacock said. "He's home."
Camera slung over his shoulder, his dad was busy all evening. Asked how many pictures he shot of his son, he said: "About 150. Maybe 1,000. I was flickin'."
Center fielder Rick Ankiel preserved this victory, making a diving catch in left-center on Jose Reyes' liner with runners at the corners for the final out. The Nationals won their fourth in a row and improved to 70-77, topping last year's win total. They also pulled into a virtual tie with the Mets for third place in the NL East -- the franchise has not finished third or higher since 2002, when it played in Montreal.
Michael Morse and Jayson Werth hit RBI singles with two outs in the third after yet another error by third baseman David Wright, sending the Mets to their fifth straight loss. Earlier in the day, Atlanta's win officially eliminated New York from playoff contention.
Peacock (1-0) was in command from the start during his second game in the majors, having made a brief relief appearance last week. The 23-year-old righty gave a performance certainly worth of Strasburg, the former overall No. 1 pick.
"I'm impressed," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
A 41st-round draft choice in 2006, Peacock set down the first eight New York batters before walking pitcher Mike Pelfrey on a full count in the third.
Peacock faced his lone jam in the fourth when a walk to Jason Bay loaded the bases with two outs. Pitching coach Steve McCatty strolled to the mound and did most of the talking, with Peacock nodding yes several times during the visit.
Peacock then demonstrated plenty of poise, mixing fastballs and curves before tossing a changeup that got fellow rookie Josh Satin to pop up. The Mets have been lacking key hits all season -- they left 10 runners on base and have stranded the most in the majors.
"It was awesome," Peacock said.
After 94 pitches, three walks and two strikeouts, Peacock was pulled. He went a combined 15-3 in Double-A and Triple-A this year and Johnson said Peacock would be on a short leash, but not a pitch count.
"I was right on the edge of hooking him a couple of times," Johnson said.
Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen finished with shutout relief. Storen got his 37th save in 42 chances, working around a pair of leadoff walks when Justin Turner popped up a bunt back to the mound. The Mets failed on three bunt tries Tuesday night in a 3-2 loss.
"He's been known for the dramatic," Johnson said of his closer. "We've had some scares."
Pelfrey (7-12) took the hard-luck loss, leaving him with only one win in his last 10 starts. Both runs against him were unearned after Wright's fifth error in seven games.
"There were some real positives" in Pelfrey's effort, Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But like I just told him, right now you've got to be perfect. And when you're not, the way we're struggling offensively, we can't give them any support."
Reyes went 1 for 5 and never needed to test his bothersome left hamstring. The speedy star noticeably did not steal in a key spot Tuesday night, and Collins acknowledged before this game: "At times, it may not be the same guy we know."
Nationals 1B Chris Marrero had two hits, giving him 19 in his first 17 big league games. ... Mets RHP Chris Schwinden will start the series finale Thursday. He lost in his major league debut against Atlanta last week. Nationals LHP Tommy Milone makes his third big league start.