WASHINGTON -- After two blown saves on this road trip, Bobby Parnell was just happy to be shaking hands for a change Thursday afternoon.
Five-run cushion or not, the Mets' de facto closer wasn't complaining about non-save situations after the 9-5 win over the Nationals. He wasn't going to win any style points for finishing off a messy ninth. But it was an opportunity to work on a few things, especially pitching more inside, which has become a point of emphasis with Terry Collins and Dan Warthen.
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"Times like these are the only chances you have to do that," Parnell said.
The ninth began in shaky fashion, with Parnell giving up a leadoff single and then hitting Ian Desmond. Parnell explained that the fastball moved more than he thought it would, but he wasn't entirely upset by the pitch.
He gave up the lone run on what should have been the third out. Parnell struck out Danny Espinosa looking on a fastball, but Roger Bernadina reached on a run-scoring infield single when second baseman Justin Turner was a little too lax on the routine grounder. Still, Parnell shook it off to whiff Sandy Leon on a curveball to finish the game.
"Bobby hasn't been out there much," Collins said. "I wanted to get him some work. I think it's going to be real important for him."
Mike Baxter (collarbone) has been playing as the DH for Class A St. Lucie, but is still "a ways away," according to Collins, because he has not started throwing . . . The Mets are teaming up with Lucasfilm Ltd. to host their second Star Wars Night at Citi Field Monday night for the game against the Nationals. Tickets are available at Mets.com/starwars and include an exclusive Mets/Darth Vader T-shirt and a $5 donation to Stand Up to Cancer.