Flushing, NY (Sports Network) - Justin Maxwell walked with the bases loaded in the 14th inning to force in the go-ahead run and the Washington Nationals closed the season with a 2-1 victory over New York at Citi Field in what has been rumored to be Jerry Manuel's last game as Mets manager.
Reports surfaced on Friday before the opener of this three-game season-ending series that Manuel was on his way out and Omar Minaya would also be replaced as general manager. Manuel has posted a record of 204-213 since taking over for Willie Randolph on June 17, 2008. Minaya has been the club's GM since 2005 and has a contract through the 2012 season with an additional two years of club options.
"Hopefully soon," Manuel said when asked about when he will learn his status. "I'll come in and find out what direction the organization wants to go."
Oliver Perez (0-5), one of Minaya's questionable free agent signings, started the 14th inning on the mound for the Mets and the wildness that relegated him to the end of the bullpen showed almost immediately. He had last pitched on September 6 and after striking out Ian Desmond to start the inning, the lefty hit Adam Kennedy and walked the next three batters. Maxwell's free pass forced Kennedy home with the go-ahead run.
"He hadn't pitched in a while and it was a tough situation for him," Manuel said about Perez.
Gonzalez stroked a pair of hits and drove in a run for Washington (69-93), which snapped a streak of 18 straight one-run road losses. The Nationals hadn't won a one-run game on the road since May 10, a 3-2 triumph at Citi Field.
Livan Hernandez went the first 6 2/3 innings for Washington and gave up a run on six hits with a walk and one strikeout.
Mike Pelfrey pitched seven solid innings in the start for the Mets, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. New York (79-83) had won the first two of this series.
The Nationals opened the scoring in the fifth. Roger Bernadina drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a grounder by Ivan Rodriguez and took third on an infield hit by Willie Harris before scoring on a base hit by Gonzalez. Hernandez then bunted into a double play to end the threat.
New York responded immediately in the home half, as singles by Angel Pagan and Lucas Duda put runners on the corners. Josh Thole then killed the rally with a double play that scored Pagan. Ruben Tejada followed with a double but was left stranded when Pelfrey lined out to center.
"We struggled all year offensively," Manuel stated.
Washington threatened in the sixth after a single by Danny Espinoza and walk to Nyjer Morgan. Desmond then bunted into a force out that left runners on first and third for Adam Dunn, who popped out to third. David Wright made a nice backhanded catch for the out and Desmond took second, but Bernadina grounded weakly to first to end the inning.
The Mets stranded two in the seventh, then had two on with one out in the eighth before Ike Davis lined out and Pagan popped up. Washington left two men on base in the ninth and neither team had a runner past first until the 14th.
The Mets used seven pitchers, while the Nationals trotted out six pitchers for the contest...New York was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base...The Nats were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine...The Mets fell to 23-26 all-time in the final game of the season, including 11-12 at home.