Sanchez drives in three as Nationals beat Mets

By STEPHEN WHYNO

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — After a decade in the minors, not even a body blow from a hard-thrown baseball was going to keep Adrian Sanchez from taking another swing.

Sanchez shrugged off a 96 mph sinker to the chest and delivered an RBI single to cap off his impressive performance as the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets 9-4 on Saturday.

The rookie from Venezuela drove in three runs and made a big defensive play to help Gio Gonzalez get the final out of the seventh inning in a game that featured mostly reserves for both teams.

When a pitch from Mets reliever Jeurys Familia struck Sanchez squarely in the chest as he tried to bunt in the eighth, the 27-year-old remained on the ground for several minutes.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Sanchez wanted to stay in the game and continue the at-bat and was glad to see him deliver for an important insurance run.

“I would’ve had to bring a truck to pull him off the field because he wanted that at-bat,” Baker said of Sanchez, who wasn’t available for interviews because he was still getting tests. “That picked our team up and it brought the house down, too, because everybody here loves Sanchy and we’re all pulling for him big-time.”

Sanchez was a big part of Washington’s production against New York starter Robert Gsellman (5-6), who allowed six runs (two earned) on nine hits in four innings and was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas afterward. Gsellman’s own fielding error made his numbers look better but put the Mets in a hole.

Gonzalez (13-5) allowed two earned runs on six hits and struck out two in 6 2/3 innings and earned a standing ovation from the crowd as he departed. His only blemishes came on Juan Lagares’ RBI single in the third that scored Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores’ 16th home run in the sixth.

“It’s just trying to lock it in, stay focused, try not to get out of my game and try to do too much,” Gonzalez said. “Every time I go out there I want to try to go deep in the game and save as much arm in the bullpen as possible.”

With only one player starting who was in their opening day lineup, the Nationals also got two RBIs from Adam Lind and a big day from center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who went 3 for 4 with his sixth outfield assist and 11th stolen base of the season.

By Paul Wager

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